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Dec. 11, 2000

Michael Mewhinney

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-3937, 650/604-9000

mmewhinney@mail.arc.nasa.gov


Anne Watzman

Carnegie Mellon University

Phone: 412/268-3830

aw16@andrew.cmu.edu


RELEASE: 00-82AR

COMPUTING CONSORTIUM FORMED TO ELIMINATE COMPUTER FAILURES

NASA and Carnegie Mellon University officials today announced formation of a new High Dependability Computing Consortium (HDCC), whose mission is to eliminate failures in computing systems critical to the welfare of society.

Twelve information technology companies have agreed to work with Carnegie Mellon and NASA on the consortium and its agenda to promote and conduct research enabling the development of highly dependable, affordable software systems. The consortium's industry partners include Adobe Systems, Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Corp., IBM Corp., ILOG, Inc., Marimba, Inc., Microsoft Corp., Novell, Inc., SGI, Inc., Siebel Systems, Inc., Sybase, Inc., and Sun Microsystems, Inc.

"Carnegie Mellon’s expertise in robotics has played a major role in the success of numerous NASA research projects," said NASA Ames Research Center Director Dr. Henry McDonald. "We look forward to working with the university and our industry partners to advance NASA's computing capabilities for future research projects."

Earlier this year, NASA awarded a $500,000 grant to Carnegie Mellon to develop the High Dependability Computing Consortium. Improved computing capability is critical to such areas as the nation's air traffic control system, Internet communication, power generation and transmission, space exploration, health care and highway safety. Dependable computer systems technology is also necessary to ensure that the software created for space missions, defense, health care, electronic commerce, or any systems affecting human safety or well-being functions properly.

"Carnegie Mellon has a long history of building practical computing systems and is recognized for its expertise in software engineering," said Carnegie Mellon President Dr. Jared L. Cohon. "We have an innovative faculty that excels in cross-disciplinary research. The university has played a lead role in forming this consortium. Once established, we will help lead it and contribute to its technical agenda. All of Carnegie Mellon’s capabilities will contribute to the success of the HDCC," Cohon added.

The High Dependability Computing Consortium represents the first concrete step in Carnegie Mellon's plan to develop a presence in Silicon Valley. Last January, the university signed a memorandum of understanding with NASA Ames establishing a partnership to explore the creation of a branch campus in the NASA Research Park being developed at Moffett Field. Since then, university officials have signed a letter of intent with NASA Ames that outlines the university's proposed programs, including the High Dependability Computing Consortium, for the research park site. Carnegie Mellon proposes to build 500,000 square feet of space on 15 acres in the university reserve section of the research park.

"We want to showcase our research and educational offerings in Silicon Valley, the information technology capital of the world," said James H. Morris, dean of Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science. Nationally known research and educational programs from Carnegie Mellon's college of engineering and Software Engineering Institute may also play key roles in the Silicon Valley campus. Morris and others at Carnegie Mellon believe a presence in Silicon Valley can enhance the educational experience of students at the Pittsburgh campus by giving them opportunities for internships or research with NASA or Silicon Valley companies. Morris said the goal is to create a suitable platform, including classrooms, laboratory space and housing that would allow any department of the university to run a program there at reasonable cost. Initially, the facility would be used for research with NASA, executive education programs, electronic commerce courses, computer science, robotics and software engineering.

Carnegie Mellon is participating with NASA as the agency puts together an environmental impact statement for development of the Moffett Field site. The university has hired San Francisco-based BMS Design Group, EHDD architects and consultant Barnes and Co., to assist in planning. Funding for these services has come from Silicon Valley-based friends of the university.

"We want to undertake basic, empirical and engineering research aimed at making the creation and maintenance of computer systems a true professional discipline comparable to civil engineering and medicine," said Morris. "As shapers of the future, universities should address the software quality problem now, before the world at large sees a crisis. Carnegie Mellon has more than 2,500 alumni in Silicon Valley. They want to see us take a more active role in this environment."

Carnegie Mellon has had a long-standing relationship with NASA Ames. In addition to developing high-profile robots such as Dante, which explored the interior of a volcano, and Nomad, which trekked across Chile's Atacama Desert and found meteorites in Antarctica, Carnegie Mellon researchers have worked with NASA Ames on a variety of other science projects. Researchers from departments as diverse as philosophy, computer science and mechanical engineering have also worked with Ames scientists on projects including formal methods for verifying digital circuitry, vision and navigation, machine learning and data mining.

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