UNI receives State Farm gift for computer science program

September 14, 2004

Ruth Ratliff, vice president, University Advancement, (319) 273-6078
Melissa Barber, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761
Stephanie Jacobson, State Farm Insurance, (515) 226-7067

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The University of Northern Iowa recently received $48,000 from State Farm Insurance Companies Foundation to support computer science focus areas in networking and system administration (NaSA), bioinformatics, and other high-performance computing applications. The gift will be used to enhance computer infrastructure for curricular applications of computer technology, which will allow the university to offer new courses and research support for dynamic changes in computer science. UNI's bioinformatics program, a rapidly growing field with the potential for strong economic impact, is one of the first in the nation at the undergraduate level.

'Having a dedicated, state-of-the-art, clustered computer environment for research will give our students hands-on experiences. This will enhance their education in two ways -- through utilization of the labs in classroom activities, and through research opportunities,' said Bart Bergquist, head of the Department of Computer Science. 'They will be able to investigate communication network issues such as security, and conduct a full investigation of programming and algorithmic issues surrounding parallel architectures.'

'Students studying computer science will have the opportunity to prepare for the ever-changing technology of the future,' said Pat Kappes, State Farm Agency Field Executive. 'We are pleased to partner with UNI in this endeavor and look forward to continuing our work with this key school -- a State Farm Foundation Priority School and targeted recruiting campus in 2004.'

This state-of-the-art system also will provide support for other emerging programs in this area, according to Bergquist. In addition to student learning, the system will be used as a training resource. Regional and national training workshops will be hosted for educators using high-performance computing in the high school and undergraduate curriculum.

The Department of Computer Science is one of the many successful programs in UNI's College of Natural Sciences (CNS), as demonstrated by the most recent graduating student survey, in which CNS students had the highest percentage accepted to graduate or professional schools among all colleges at the University of Northern Iowa.