The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire unveiled a new supercomputer on its campus Monday, funded in part by a new public-private partnership between the college and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

The company, which has a site in neighboring Chippewa Falls, will put $362,426 toward the supercomputer. Faculty secured a $350,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and the university contributed another $20,000 through its College of Arts and Sciences and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

The $733,426 high-performance computer will allow the university to significantly expand research and teaching opportunities to students and faculty involved in computer and data science. But researchers on topics from health care to geography can use the technology in their studies.

UW-Eau Claire prides itself on offering a broad range of opportunities for undergraduate student research and the new computer will open doors to more hands-on learning for students, not just through coursework and research at UW-Eau Claire, but also through internships at Hewlett Packard.

“This will be a building block (to training) highly-skilled professionals,” said Sudeep Bhattacharyay, coordinator of UW-Eau Claire’s existing supercomputer and an associate professor in chemistry and biochemistry.

Bhattacharyay and Ying Ma, associate professor of materials science, played pivotal roles in gathering enough funding for the supercomputer.

Faculty say the employer demand for people with these kinds of skills is significant, so the arrival of the supercomputer is a chance for UW-Eau Claire to cement itself in the region as a leader in job training, particularly at the intersection of computer science and health care.

“There are companies who are now looking for high-performance computing administrators,” said Rahul Gomes, an assistant professor of computer science. “If you look at Amazon, a huge amount of Amazon’s revenue comes from Amazon’s Web Services — and that’s nothing but a high-performance computing environment. … So, there is a push right now to have more people know about how to manage these big infrastructures.”

Bill Mannel, vice president and general manager of high-performance computing for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, said he hopes the investment will help prepare more UW-Eau Claire graduates to take jobs with the company.

“With a collaboration with UW-Eau Claire and the excellence of its faculty and student body, we will accelerate innovation and push the boundaries of computational science and scientific discovery,” Mannel said.

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