Indiana University’s newly dedicated Big Red 200, its $9.6 million artificial intelligence supercomputer,

IU dedicated Big Red 200 as part of its Day of Commemoration Bicentennial event Jan. 20. It is the first in a revolutionary new Cray, Inc. line of exascale supercomputers that the Hewlett Packard Enterprise company has branded Shasta.

Department of Energy laboratories plan to install larger Shasta iterations in the coming years as part of an Exascale Computing Project to develop the world’s fastest supercomputers, with exascale speeds exceeding 10 to the eighteenth power calculations per second.

To illustrate the speed of what is now Indiana’s fastest supercomputer, IU said Big Red can perform the same number of calculations in 1 second that everyone in the state could perform together over 28 years if they could each perform one calculation per second nonstop during that period.

“I am excited about utilizing the AI capabilities of Big Red 200 to accelerate the research programs in the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics at the IU School of Medicine,” Tatiana Foroud, the department’s chairwoman, said in an announcement.

”I believe this new AI-capable supercomputer will enable breakthrough discoveries across a broad range of research areas, including neurodegeneration and the study of Alzheimer’s disease,” she said.

”Importantly, Big Red 200 will be an essential resource for the Precision Health Initiative, one of the Indiana University Grand Challenges, which is designed to enhance the prevention, treatment and health outcomes of human diseases through a more precise analysis of the genetic, developmental, behavioral and environmental factors that shape an individual’s health.”

In addition to medicine, Big Red will support IU advanced research in artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics.

The 200 was added to Big Red’s name to commemorate IU’s Bicentennial. The new supercomputer is replacing a supercomputer that is becoming obsolete, which was installed in 2013 as the deep learning revolution was gaining steam.

PFW adds astronomy concentration

The physics department at Purdue University Fort Wayne plans to start offering northeast Indiana’s only concentration in astronomy and astrophysics this coming fall.

Students completing the four-year program will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in physics with an astronomy concentration.

In addition to astrophysics, it will include classes in planetary astronomy and beginning and advanced stellar astronomy and cosmology.

The program also will offer optics and optics laboratory special sections as well as instrumentation-related classes such as electronics for scientists, instrumentation and spectroscopy or atomic and molecular physics.

Students in the program also will learn how a telescope works and how to build and use one.

“The students who choose to follow the astrophysicist path will have a skill set in project management and will be able to design an instrument package for a satellite.” Mark Masters, professor and chair of the physics department, said in an announcement.

“Much like physics students, the astronomy students can apply their experimental, data analysis, and other skills to many different fields,” he said.

“They are problem solvers. They will be able to have careers that range from the financial industry, programming, engineers, technicians, and astronomers.”

PFW’s fall 2020 class schedule will be posted online by the end of February with staggered registration starting in March.

Elevate Nexus continues pitch competitions

Entrepreneurs in the region had until Feb. 3 to apply for participation in the second Elevate Nexus Regional Pitch Competitions.

Elevate Ventures planned to select finalists Feb. 4 in order to invite them to participate in their region’s version of the business plan pitch competition.

The Northern Region’s version was scheduled for Feb. 25 at Innovation Park at Notre Dame, 1400 E. Angela Blvd. in South Bend.

Indianapolis-based Elevate Ventures started the Elevate Nexus program last year to help colleges and universities in the state that did not already have them to initiate the investment pitch competitions.

The first of Elevate’s regional pitch competitions leading to a statewide competition took place last October.

Of 75 applicants, 67 finalists were invited to compete in that contest, which provided the entrepreneurs 10 minutes each to convince a panel of regional judges their companies would be the most likely to provide the best returns on seed and pre-seed investments.

The competition awarded pre-seed investments of $20,000 each to nine businesses and seed investments of $80,000 each to six businesses, including Pierceton-based CoolCorp Inc. and Warsaw-based Eclipse Orthopaedics.

In addition to the funding, competition winners became Elevate portfolio companies and gained access to its network of advisers and resources, the announcement said.

The winners also were invited to pitch to judges in a similar, statewide competition with $40,000 pre-seed and $100,000 seed investments. That event will take place April 14 as part of Elevate’s annual Kinetic conference.

More information on the second Elevate Nexus Regional Pitch Competitions, including details and eligibility requirements, is available at

Abbott honors Team Stroy at Statehouse

State Rep. David Abbott, R-Rome City, recently honored Fort Wayne native Morgan Malm at the Statehouse along with other winners of Purdue University’s 2019 Student Soybean Product Innovation Competition.

Funded by the Indiana Soybean Alliance through a soybean checkoff program, Abbott said the competition challenges students to create a new industrial product using soybeans.

Malm was pursuing a food science doctorate at Purdue last year when she and classmates Natalie Stephenson and Ruth Zhong placed first for their development of a biodegradable, environmentally friendly straw they dubbed “Stroy.”

Malm developed a structure for the straw of soy protein film, and then because it was water soluble, she searched the candy and pharmaceutical industries for an existing coating that could protect it for several hours after it came in contact with water.

The alliance had provided $300 to develop the prototype. Archer Daniels Midland had donated the soy protein for it, and the team bought two other ingredients for it on Amazon.

Members of “Team Stroy” received a $20,000 prize for their months-long effort. “The innovation the group showed is nothing short of remarkable,” Abbott said in a news release.

“This soy-based straw looks and feels almost exactly like a plastic straw, while being completely bio-degradable. Soybeans are used for so many things in society, and this product could potentially boost Indiana’s soybean production.”

The trio hopes to market the Stroy to the restaurant, fast-food chain and coffee and snack shop industry.

“It’s feasible this invention could affect the state’s agricultural and economic growth as soybean production could rise,” Abbott said.

A group of soybean farmers, marketing specialists and scientists judging the contest at Purdue appreciated the fact that the prototype for the biodegradable, soy-based Stroy offers the material consistency of a plastic straw but breaks down in a matter of days if it is thrown away

Col. Stohler to keynote NIBCC luncheon

Col. Michael Stohler, commander of the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne, will keynote the first luncheon of the decade for the Northeast Indiana Base Community Council.

His presentation entitled “Your Citizen Airmen” will provide an overview of the 122nd and what it does for the country and community. The luncheon will take place at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 12 at the Parkview Mirro Center, 10622 Parkview Plaza Drive in Fort Wayne.

Stohler has commanded the 122nd since April 2018 when its previous commander, Patrick Renwick, was promoted to brigadier general from colonel and began serving as a senior adviser to the adjutant general of the Indiana Air National Guard in Indianapolis.

With more than 4,100 hours in the F-16 and A-10 fighter aircraft, the command pilot has logged 833 hours during 161 combat sorties supporting operations Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve.

During his Inherent Resolve service, he became the first commander of the reactivated “Red Tails” of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Group.

Stohler served as the Indiana Air Guard’s state director of operations at its Joint Forces Headquarters in Indianapolis prior to leading the 122nd.

He works as a commercial pilot out of Fort Wayne International Airport when not serving in the Air National Guard.

The cost of the luncheon is $25 with a $5 discount for NIBCC members or members of the military community. Gold Tables, which seat eight, are available for $500. More information on the event is available at

Hendrix to speak on state 5G plans

Sean Hendrix, director of emerging technology partnerships for Purdue Research Foundation and managing director for the Indiana 5G Zone, will provide the program for the next local Networking Information Technology Association meeting.

His presentation on “The 5th Generation Mobile Network” will take place at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 7 at Kettler Hall, Room G46, at Purdue University Fort Wayne, 2101 Coliseum Blvd. E.

“5G promises to be transformative — from new smartphone uses, automated vehicles, and the Internet of Things to remote healthcare, augmented and virtual reality, industrial automation and more — the innovations of the future will be built on 5G,” a meeting announcement said.

“However, defining what 5G is, developing an understanding of how physical industries will be digitized, and understanding where Indiana fits in the overall picture presents both opportunities and challenges. We will explore these questions in an effort to develop the roadmap forward.”

The local NITA has changed its meeting day from the first Thursday of the month to the first Friday.

Veteran reporter Doug LeDuc joined Business Weekly in 2006 and primarily covers banking and finance and technology. You can send information for his weekly column to or call 260-426-2640, ext. 3309.

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