Last October, Clarkson University and the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries announced an expansion of their educational and operational partnership

in order to advance commercialization of emerging real-time river monitoring sensor technology.

The Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries - Clarkson University will provide far-reaching environmental and economic benefits to New York state under a new name and operational structure that will establish New York as the leader in research and education for water innovation.

New York State Lt. Governor Robert Duffy attended the press conference that took place at Denning’s Point, part of the New York State Hudson Highlands Park located on the Hudson River in Beacon, N.Y. The goals of the partnership align to the priorities of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration to drive economic growth and jobs through robust collaboration among private sector, university and public interests. The Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries - Clarkson University will establish key footholds in the Hudson Valley and North Country regions, as well as outreach beyond New York state.

“This strategic alliance recognizes that universities must do more than create new knowledge, but also must lead in developing intellectual property, transferring technology to the marketplace and becoming a central part of the economic enterprise that values innovation, creativity and wealth for society,” Clarkson President Tony Collins said at the press conference.

beacon_partnershipIn 2008, Clarkson University and a team of its researchers joined the River and Estuary Observatory Network (REON) collaboration started by Beacon Institute and IBM. Together, the partners established a first-of-its-kind real-time environmental monitoring network for rivers and estuaries that allows for continuous monitoring of physical, chemical and biological data from points in New York’s Hudson, Mohawk and St. Lawrence Rivers. The real-time monitoring is achieved through an integrated network of sensors, robotics, mobile monitoring and computational technology deployed in the rivers.

This innovative technology is revolutionizing the way bodies of water are monitored. The REON system and technology are designed to be replicable for rivers and estuaries worldwide. China and Korea have already sent scientists and engineers to visit the Beacon Institute’s research team to learn more about REON’s applications.

Clarkson University Business School Dean Timothy Sugrue, Ph.D., a successful entrepreneurial leader, will become the Institute’s chief executive officer, with responsibility for R&D oversight and commercial partnership development. Beacon Institute Founding Director John Cronin is an internationally known environmentalist and former Hudson Riverkeeper. Cronin will join Clarkson’s faculty as a Beacon Institute Fellow, as well as retain his relationship at Pace University, where he serves as Senior Fellow for Environmental Affairs. The Institute will retain its not-for-profit designation, as well as its operations in Beacon with enhanced activity in Clarkson’s Old Main building.

Green Data Center
The REON water management research program requires a robust cyber-infrastructure and data backbone in order to process the massive amounts of data it collects.

To meet these needs, IBM announced that it will invest in the development of a Green Data Center at Clarkson. “IBM has the ability to provide the deep computing and analytics that are necessary for smarter water management,” said Dr. Sharon Nunes, IBM’s Vice President for Global Government and Smarter Cities Strategy. 

Clarkson has received an IBM Shared University Research award of more than
$1 million, including an IBM POWER7 processor-based IBM Smart Analytics System, IBM BladeCenter servers, IBM System Storage, IBM System Networking, and IBM WebSphere application software for the data center.

The new facility will substantially expand Clarkson’s capacity to engage in complex computational research and advanced analytics, as well as enhance the operational systems of the University.

As part of the Green Data Center’s functionality, IBM and Clarkson researchers are planning a design that captures the waste heat from the servers and uses it to naturally heat the facility. In contrast to large traditional data centers, the footprint of the state-of-the-art center at Clarkson uses existing space with minimal modifications.