Defending Cyber-Space
The University of Texas at San Antonio finished third in the first National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC).

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte won first place, and Pennsylvania's Millersville University placed second in the event, which was held in late April at the Airport Hilton in San Antonio. Other participants included Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a team of cadets representing all five military service academies.

"We hope this exposure helps to raise the level of interest in security as a potential career and educates the students on the importance of defending the nation's critical infrastructures," said Greg White, director of the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The National CCDC was sponsored in part through donations and volunteer support from the Department of Homeland Security and others. -- University of Texas at San Antonio

Beefing up the Cluster
The Board of Regents for the University of Texas (UT) System established a three-year partnership with the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at UT Austin to significantly expand world-class research programs and increase external funding of research at UT System institutions.

The partnership will invest approximately $7 million over three years to substantially increase the capabilities of the Lonestar high-performance computing cluster at TACC. Lonestar also will be made available to researchers at the UT System's 14 other institutions.

The board approved a $3 million investment in equipment to upgrade Lonestar from 1,000 processors with 6 teraflops peak performance to newer technologies offering at least 1,800 dual-core processors providing at least 35 teraflops of peak performance.

Researchers in the UT System can tap the TACC Lonestar cluster via the Lonestar Education and Research Network (LEARN), a fiber-optic communications network funded by the Texas Legislature in 2004.

LEARN provides high-speed connectivity among academic institutions and to research networks across the country. The network, including the TACC, was built to enhance Texas' research competitiveness and the state's economic competitiveness, and to provide advanced, cost-effective data communications to support educating students around the state.

The computer hardware upgrade will increase TACC's computing capabilities, making it one of the leading academic high-performance computing centers in Texas and the United States. The upgrade, which will use new blade technology from Dell, will also make it more cost-effective to upgrade further when Intel releases new processors.

As demand for supercomputing has increased, TACC has grown from a staff of 15 to more than 60 in four years, and is expected to double over the next four years. -- University of Texas

RFID on the Road
The Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) in Houston is upgrading its electronic-payment system for toll roads.

For the past 13 years, the HCTRA used an older, hard-case radio frequency identification (RFID) tag to collect toll payments electronically from passing cars. The upgrade to TransCore's multiprotocol eGo Plus RFID tags will replace the HCTRA's current EZ TAG transponder with next-generation windshield sticker tags.

The new RFID sticker tag is a 915 MHz radio frequency programmable windshield tag, and requires no battery to operate. Packaged as a flexible paper-thin sticker, this transponder is designed for applications that require low-cost, easily installed tags, and is appropriate for high-speed electronic toll collection, airport ground transportation management systems, parking and security access.

The HCTRA said it plans to migrate approximately 1.2 million motorists to the new RFID tags over the next couple of years. The order is for 1 million new RFID tags with distribution slated to begin in spring 2006.

The same RFID tag also was selected in September 2005 by the Texas Department of Transportation, which hopes to overcome the cost barrier to widespread RFID tag adoption. The multiprotocol tag allows motorists

Shane Peterson  |  Associate Editor