$100 Million Chancellor’s Research Initiative Recruits 4 Top Scholars

Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System
$100 million Chancellor’s Research Initiative recruits four top scholars, national academy members to Texas A&M EngineeringCOLLEGE STATION, Texas — A $100 million fund at The Texas A&M University System known as the Chancellor’s Research Initiative (CRI) is credited for successfully attracting four world renowned scholars and researchers to elevate the engineering research portfolio: Christodoulos A. Floudas, professor of engineering and applied science, Princeton University; E.N. Pistikopoulos, professor of chemical engineering, Imperial College of London; Alan Needleman, professor of materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering, University of North Texas; and Peter M. Rentzepis, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, University of California at Irvine.”These are superstars in the academic community in engineering research, respected by their peers as members of the prestigious national academies, and the caliber of scholar that every university aggressively courts,” said Chancellor John Sharp. “The CRI seeks to find outstanding researchers who can not only produce amazing work, but also bring in some much needed funding to support that work.”Leveraging vast experience in developing and implementing large, multi-investigator, federally funded programs, each brings strength in key areas: Floudas and Pistikopoulos in the area of process control and optimization; Needleman in computational materials and Rentzepis in ultrafast spectroscopy and x-ray lasers.”The impact that these scholars will have on our program is far-reaching,” said Dr. M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of Texas A&M Engineering. “Each brings expertise in key research areas, which will attract other influential scholars and high quality students to our program. The CRI is an investment in our future that will pay enormous dividends in ways we cannot even calculate at this point.” Dr. Christodoulos A. Floudas will join the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University as a chair professor in February 2015. Also, he will be appointed as the director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute. Dr. Floudas is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Floudas is among the top leaders in the world in the area of process control and optimization, and conducts interdisciplinary research including contributions in energy, healthcare and other areas relevant to the Texas economy. “Dr. Floudas will anchor our efforts to create an excellence cluster in multi-scale systems engineering for energy and the environment,” said Dr. Nazmul Karim, head of the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering. “Building this excellence cluster will require hiring several faculty with specific expertise in addition to Dr. Floudas and one of these senior faculty has been identified as Dr. E.N. Pistikopoulos, who is currently a faculty member at Imperial College in London.” Dr. E.N. Pistikopoulos is also among the top leaders in the world in the area of process control and optimization, and conducts interdisciplinary research including contributions in energy and healthcare. He will join the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering in November 2014 as a chair professor. Dr. Pistikopoulos is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. “Their presence in the department will elevate its stature in the academic community, making the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering one of the best departments in the country, and perhaps in the world. Their presence will attract the very best students to the campus and the intellectual conversation will be elevated to levels not seen before,” said Karim. Dr. Alan Needleman will join the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University as a tenured chair professor with a joint appointment as distinguished research professor in the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station in 2015. Dr. Needleman is an internationally known researcher in the area of computational modeling of materials, dislocation dynamics, structure mechanics and theoretical and applied mechanics. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. “Dr. Needleman’s accomplishments and agenda are synergistic with several strategic initiatives at Texas A&M: national security, transportation and energy, which have been identified among the Grand Challenge areas for the university,” said Dr. Ibrahim Karaman, materials science and engineering department head. “In addition, Dr. Needleman’s emphasis on computational materials science with strong links to the materials genome initiative will take Texas A&M’s high performance computing environment to new horizons.” Dr. Peter M. Rentzepis joined the department of electrical and computer engineering at Texas A&M in May 2014 and holds the title of professor and holder of the TEES Distinguished Research Professorship. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has many honors to his credit including The Irving Langmuir Award in Chemical Physics. Rentzepis is a pioneer in the field of ultrafast spectroscopy, especially its use in the study of transition states in chemical and biological reactions including photosynthesis. He also developed an ultrafast table-top X-ray laser which will have numerous applications to biology, chemistry, and material science. “We are fortunate to have Dr. Rentzepis join our faculty, as he brings tremendous experience and leadership from his tenure as department head at Bell Labs and presidential chair and professor of chemistry and electrical engineering at the University of California, Irvine,” said Chanan Singh, interim head of electrical and computer engineering. “His wealth of knowledge and experience from industry and academia will greatly enhance our research efforts in lasers and life sciences.”

Texas A&M AgriLife Number 1

Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System
Texas A&M AgriLife No. 1 nationally in agriculture research expenditures

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M AgriLife Research was ranked No. 1 in agricultural sciences expenditures for fiscal year 2012, the latest year for which figures are available, according to the National Science Foundation.The agency, part of the Texas A&M University System, accounted for more than $176.4 million of the nearly $3.3 billion spent on agricultural research by more than 30 U.S. universities, surpassing the University of Florida, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, University of California-Davis and Purdue University in the top five positions.In the past four years, AgriLife Research had totaled the third or fourth highest expenditures.

“This ranking is not about being No. 1 just to be No. 1,” said Dr. Craig Nessler, AgriLife Research director. “It’s about positively impacting the lives of Texans, our fellow citizens across the nation and people worldwide with important scientific discoveries in agriculture.”

Nessler said the gains also are important because research budgets had a 17.5 percent cut and lost millions of dollars in earmark funding in recent years.

The National Science Foundation — created in 1950 by Congress “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense” — annually measures the total research spending in several categories, including agriculture.

“AgriLife Research is a leader not only in advanced scientific discovery but in its innovative approach to finding funds that enable our scientists to concentrate on their projects,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “I’m continuously amazed by the breadth and depth of efforts by AgriLife professionals to make our world a better place.”

As AgriLife Research officials said the increased funding, up almost $53 million from the previous year, is due mostly to an increase in international projects and the efforts of Corporate Relations, the agency’s unit that seeks and coordinates major sponsored research opportunities for scientists.

Not only did AgriLife Research achieve the No.1 spot in the expenditures list, but its total was more than $25 million higher than any other of the top five universities in the last four years.

The increase in research expenditures is important because it means faculty researchers have additional opportunities to do top-level scientific studies,” Nessler said. “A scientist’s passion for research shouldn’t have to be interrupted to search for funds in a shrinking economy.”

IT Audit Report Results

Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System
Moving Forward

As soon as I started this job, The Texas A&M University System Auditor reported that the rising costs of information technology (IT) at the A&M System were unsustainable. We started a review of IT immediately, utilizing Deloitte Consulting, LLP.There is no way to have an efficient operation of any kind without a first-class IT department. We will immediately begin implementing their recommendations, which will not only save money, but will enable us to have the best IT department in the state.

Texas A&M University System announces IT Audit Report results

April 17, 2014

COLLEGE STATION, Texas— John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, today announced that Deloitte Consulting, LLP has completed their study of Information Technology (IT) infrastructure throughout the A&M System. The study included 29 detailed recommendations with anticipated savings of $200 million over the next ten years or $20 million per year if infrastructure changes are implemented.

“As soon as I started this job, our auditor reported that the rising costs of IT at the A&M System were unsustainable, therefore we initiated a review of IT immediately utilizing Deloitte,” said Sharp. “There is no way to have an efficient operation of any kind without a first-class IT department. We will immediately begin implementing these recommendations, which will not only save money, but will enable us to have the best IT department in the state.”

The report covers all A&M System members. It points out a lack of unified vision at the system-level, while structural and funding challenges have forced members to be self-sufficient with limited opportunities for cooperation. The result has been an inefficient structure that presents challenges in attracting, hiring and retaining qualified IT staff. However, some system members, including Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M International University, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, Texas A&M University – Kingsville, Texas A&M Transportation Institute and West Texas A&M University have well developed and highly functioning IT leadership.

There was no immediate timing discussed for a rollout of the suggested changes, but given the potential savings and opportunity to improve both the quality and efficiency of the IT infrastructure, the chancellor assures the project will be a high priority.

“This set of recommendations has been delivered to each CEO of the system,” said Sharp. “It has been developed with strong grassroots IT support throughout the system, and I believe will be implemented in its entirety.”

Information on the report and the current status of Texas A&M System IT infrastructure is available here: http://news.tamus.edu/it-faqs.

Statements from Texas A&M University System members:

Texas A&M University 
“I was briefed Monday afternoon about the Deloitte IT study and am taking their recommendations under advisement. My goal is to always strive to improve efficiencies and services that support excellent teaching, research and outreach at Texas A&M University,” said Dr. Mark Hussey, interim president of Texas A&M University.

West Texas A&M University
“I believe we have been able to make great progress at West Texas A&M University over the past several years in containing costs while at the same time keeping pace with technology and enhancing IT services for student learning and student and faculty research. I look forward to implementing the Deloitte recommendations which will allow us to provide even better IT programs and services to our faculty, staff, and students,” said Dr. Pat O’Brien, president of WTAMU.

Texas A&M University-Kingsville
“This report and its mention of our campus show that our efforts are recognized, but we know there is more that can be done. We look forward to working with our A&M System partners to continue making improvements and building a more collaborative and cohesive environment,” said Dr. Steven H. Tallant, president of A&M-Kingsville.

Texas A&M International University
“We are very pleased to see this report reach its final form, and are grateful to the System for pursuing efficiency measures.” said Dr. Ray Keck, president of Texas A&M International University. “Chancellor Sharp is committed to channeling all possible resources into the academic mission of our institutions.  We salute him for his vision.”

Texas A&M University-Texarkana
“Recommendations in the report will allow a relatively small campus such as A&M-Texarkana to leverage the resources of the A&M System to develop and maintain state-of-the-art IT services—an achievement that would be difficult, if not impossible, for us to obtain on our own,” said Dr. Emily Cutrer, president of A&M-Texarkana.

Texas A&M University-Central Texas 
“As a new institution, Texas A&M University-Central Texas is well-positioned to incorporate the beneficial changes in IT envisioned by Chancellor Sharp and the Deloitte report,” said Dr. Marc Nigliazzo, president of A&M-Central Texas. “The university is already building its IT capability in a cost-efficient, outsourcing agreement with the Ellucian corporation for the implementation of the Banner student information system, while simultaneously undergoing audit review by the A&M System to define pathways to future excellence.  Support from the A&M System has proved invaluable and promises even greater efficiency and effectiveness through planned collaboration with other A&M System universities.”

Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service
“The recommendations in this report will help TEEX to better serve our customers while maintaining our commitment as good stewards of state resources,” said Gary Sera, director of Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.

Texas A&M Transportation Institute
“The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) has worked hard to provide a quality IT system and effective IT services for our employees, and we are pleased that the audit recognizes our efforts,” said TTI Director Dennis Christiansen. “We look forward to working with the A&M System going forward to implement the recommendations of the study.”


On Land and Sea

Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System
On Land and Sea Well, I doubt I am beating anyone to the punch here, but just in case, I want to share more interesting news from the Texas A&M University System.This is that time of the year when those flowers are in full bloom and cars dot the roadsides with families taking pictures with their children and other loved ones. It is a special time of year for all and signals that spring has sprung. Our excellent scientists within Texas A&M AgriLife Research Extension developed a new version of the official flower of our state in 2000 and it is fittingly, maroon. This was a great achievement and this year we are really making news with these flowers.An online publication in Alabama had a great read about a little fun some Aggies may have had with our friends in Austin.

‘Reverse Updyking:’ Is Texas A&M growing its colors at Texas? 
By Mike Herndon

What if Harvey Updyke had planted something instead of destroying the Toomer’s Oaks?

Some believe Texas A&M may have essentially done just that at rival Texas, where genetically modified maroon bluebonnets have been popping up in the flower beds near the school’s famous landmark, the UT Austin Tower.

Markus Hogue, UT-Austin’s program coordinator for irrigation and water conservation, told San Antonio television station KEYE that the patches of maroon flowers will “keep multiplying” and spread.

“It is just a weird coincidence that the only place that we have them on campus that we know of is right by the tower,” Hogue said.

Some Longhorns believe the rival Aggies, whose colors are maroon and white, may be to blame.

“That wouldn’t surprise me,” UT student Carly Lissak told the station. “They can’t bring the competition on the playing fields so they might as well bring it with their green thumb.”

The Texas-Texas A&M football rivalry, which stretches back to 1894, hasn’t been played since 2011, as the Aggies decided to join the SEC in 2012.

Fox Sports Southwest columnist David Ubben called it “the most ‘Aggie’ prank of all-time” and came up with a name for it [in a tweet]: Texas A&M needs to copyright the term “Reverse Updyking” for what it did to UT’s campus.

According to the Texas A&M Department of Horticulture Sciences, the “Texas Maroon” bluebonnet was developed in 2000 and was “the culmination of a lengthy bluebonnet selection effort led by Dr. Jerry Parsons, the original goal of which was to enable the planting of the Texas state flag in red, white, and blue bluebonnets.”


On a separate and more serious note, Texas A&M scientists and researchers are also having a very positive impact on the current oil spill near Galveston and cleanup of oil spills in general.  The following article that appeared in TAMUTimes is a great example of how Aggies are making a difference in the world, from land to sea.

Buoy System is Best of its Kind to Detect Oil SpillsWhen it comes to state spending and success rates, cost savings, and overall bang-for-your-buck bottom lines, it’s hard to beat Texas A&M University’s TABS buoy system that relays vital information all along the Texas gulf coast.With support from the Texas General Land Office, Texas A&M researchers have developed the only buoy system of its kind in the United States and one of the few of its kind in the world.  The Texas Automated Buoy System (TABS) supplies critical data allowing modelers to accurately predict the movement of oil spills and provides other current data that helps protect the 367-mile Texas coastline.Now in its 20th year of operation, the buoy system operated by researchers at the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG) in the College of Geosciences has proved to be extremely valuable in the fight against oil spill damage.When two ships collided in the Galveston Bay area several weeks ago, as much as 168,000 gallons of crude oil were soon oozing their way along the Texas coast, threatening pristine wetlands and marshes, the Texas fishing industry and recreational boaters, to name a few.With the first few hours of an oil spill often being the most critical time, the solar-powered buoys relayed key ocean data such as near-surface currents, wind speeds, water temperature, wave heights and other information that is critical for decision-makers on land who were getting ready to send equipment and men for oil spill cleanup work.  Such data is reported every 30 minutes.“The buoys have more than paid for themselves many times over,” John Walpert, senior research associate, explains.  “Regarding the oil spill near the Houston Ship Channel recently, we deployed a TABS Responder buoy about 20 miles southwest of Galveston.  The buoy and TABS system did exactly what it was supposed to do – it sent back data, and this is used for decision-making, modeling and projections.

“In the last 12 years alone, they have been used over 50 times for decision-making purposes during spill events and have saved potentially millions of dollars in cleanup costs.  It is the only system in the country supported by a state government with the mandate of helping to protect the coastal environment.

“This system protects the Texas coast better than any other. Any way you look at it, TABS has been a major success story.”

One study shows that the upper Texas coast averages more than 280 oil spills every year, but most of these involve about 100 gallons or less. Still, any spill can mean trouble for marine life, and that’s when the buoys can become lifesavers.

The buoys range in size from seven feet to more than 20 feet in length, each of them floating on the water’s surface.  Prices range from $60,000 to $200,000 each, depending on several factors, among them the amount of sensors on each.

The TABS project is funded by the Texas General Land Office, the state agency that supports the seven core buoys along the Texas coast, while two other buoys located near the Flower Garden Banks – about 100 miles south of the Texas-Louisiana border – are funded by a consortium of oil companies.

“What makes the TABS system so valuable is that the buoys report the state of the ocean at any given moment,” says Steve DiMarco, professor of oceanography who also helps to run and manage the buoys.

“The state of Texas has been very pro-active by using the TABs buoys and all of the information they provide.  They have passed every test with flying colors.”

Walpert says the buoys are updated annually, with many receiving more sensors and advanced technology to improve their data reporting.

“The buoy system has already saved Texas taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Walpert adds, “and they serve as a model for other states that are developing similar buoys to detect pollution and oil spills.”

When the world has a problem (or needs a new flower), Aggies Answer!

Gig ‘em

John Sharp



Sharp Solutions: April 2014 Newsletter

 Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System

Growing Impact

The Texas A&M University System, Texas A&M University, the Health Science Center and other system agencies in the Bryan-College Station area created a $4.42 billion positive economic impact on the local area in 2013, an increase of almost $113 million from 2012 and about double that of a decade ago.
Included in that record economic impact:

  • Annualized average payroll of approximately $889 million for 21,073 employees, including students;
  • Student expenditures of $494 million for food, housing, clothing, recreation and more, from a record enrollment of 50,000-plus on the College Station campus; and
  • Visitor expenditures of an estimated $385 million from Texas A&M athletic events and other campus activities, with an average stay in the community of 2.5 days.

Partnerships with the local cities and county will likely grow those numbers, particularly the enhancement and expansion of Kyle Field.

The A&M System also continues to rank first in the state in research investment. Research totals for Fiscal Year 2013 exceed a record $820 million according to the National Science Foundation. That research often leads to patents and licenses with significant, far-reaching economic benefits not included in local economic estimates.

Texas A&M University also now ranks among the nation’s top fundraising institutions in higher education, public or private, having raised a record $740 million-plus within the past year, over $300 million more than any previous 12-month period. This includes gifts, private grants and contributions to The Association of Former Students, the Texas A&M Foundation, the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation and the 12th Man Foundation. This historic level of support is attributed to the university attracting record numbers of highly qualified students. The institution’s successful entry in the Southeastern Conference is also a factor, along with more Texas A&M graduates reaching career stages where they are able to make larger gifts to their alma mater.
This growing impact, in the local community, in research and in giving back to the next generation of learners, is a testament to the loyalty of our graduates and their respect for all that being an Aggie represents.
Gig ‘em!

Harnessing Big DataThe Texas A&M University System and IBM will leverage the power of big data analytics and high-performance computing for collaborative research dedicated to advances in agriculture, geosciences and engineering. This partnership brings together the best computer scientists and technology in the world to focus on practical solutions to global challenges, such as improving extraction of Earth-based energy resources, facilitating the smart energy grid, accelerating materials development, improving disease identification and tracking in animals and fostering better understanding and monitoring of our global food supplies.IBM will provide the Blue Gene/Q technology, Power and System X servers and General Parallel File Systems Storage Systems. A test of the Blue Gene/Q on campus found that it ran a material sciences problem that previously took weeks to solve in just minutes with much greater analytical depth.

Locking in Tuition

Beginning in the fall of 2014, incoming undergraduate freshman to Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University at Galveston and the Texas A&M Health Science Center will be offered a single, fixed rate tuition through year four or five, depending on their degree plan and major. This also consolidates all student fees with the locked-in rate. While Texas A&M has historically offered very affordable tuition rates and is less expensive today than many other public, state universities in Texas, this rate guarantee will help students and parents to budget for college and the university to make future decisions based on fixed revenue.

Expanding in Houston

ExpandingInHoustonThe Houston campus of the Texas A&M Health Science Center will be expanding in the Texas Medical Center area with future construction of a multidisciplinary research and education building on 2.5 acres adjacent to the TAMHSC Institute for Biosciences and Technology, a research institute that excels at translation innovative discoveries into clinical practice for the benefit of patients.
The Houston expansion will enable even more collaborative research with other acclaimed Texas Medical Center institutions, especially in TAMHSC’s areas of excellence, such as environmental health, cancer prevention through natural products and infectious diseases. The expansion will also provide highly needed educational space for Texas A&M’s medical students and aspiring clinician scientists.

Become involved, join the Chancellor’s Century Council

The Chancellor’s Century Council is a group of individuals interested in the future of Texas higher education who provide the chancellor a means to advance the goals and objectives of The Texas A&M University System. Members participate in various A&M System activities across the state and throughout the nation. There are varying membership levels available.Find out how to join.

The “Sharp’s Solutions” email newsletter is published monthly by the Office of the Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System to inform community and business leaders of the various initiatives of Chancellor John Sharp.

IBM Announcement

Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System
Texas A&M System teams with IBM to drive computational sciences research through big data and analytics

High performance computing (HPC) system will speed research to advance energy resource management, accelerate materials development, ensure the sustainability of food supplies, and improve animal health

COLLEGE STATION, Texas and ARMONK, N.Y. – The Texas A&M University System and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced an agreement that is the beginning of a broad research collaboration supported by one of the largest computational sciences infrastructure dedicated to advances in agriculture, geosciences and engineering.

The collaboration will leverage the power of big data analytics and high performance computing (HPC) systems for innovative solutions across a spectrum of challenges, such as improving extraction of Earth-based energy resources, facilitating the smart energy grid, accelerating materials development, improving disease identification and tracking in animals, and fostering better understanding and monitoring of our global food supplies.

“Combining the incredible intellectual and technological resources of Texas A&M University and IBM will further position Texas as a leader in identifying and solving some of the most complex challenges we face,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said. “The work that will be done here will change lives and potentially save lives not just in our state, but our nation and around the world.”

IBM will provide the infrastructure for the joint research consisting of Blue Gene/Q technology, Power and System x servers, and General Parallel File Systems (GPFS) Storage Systems. A test of the Blue Gene/Q on campus found that it ran a material sciences problem that previously took weeks to solve and produced a solution in “a fraction of an hour” with much greater analytical depth.

“The Texas A&M System and IBM share a passion and a commitment to research that identifies practical solutions to global challenges,” said Chancellor John Sharp, Texas A&M University System. “As the largest research university in the state, this agreement is a major step forward for the A&M System in research computing power. This brings together the best computer scientists and technology in the world to focus on issues so important to our role as a leading research institution and to our land-grant mission of serving the state while also providing resources to serve the greater good throughout the world.”

IBM Research and the A&M System intend to align skills, assets and resources to pursue fundamental research, applied development, educational reach and sustainable commercial activities with projects that may include:

  • Sustainable availability of food: efficiently providing sufficient food for a growing global population;
  • Disease spread tracking, modeling and predicition: early and accurate detection and prediction of infectious disease spread to allow the design, testing and manufacturing of medical countermeasures;
  • Energy resource management: responsibly explore, extract and deliver energy resources;
  • New materials development: atomic-level modeling, design and testing of new materials for advanced applications in energy, aerospce, structural and defense applications.

As a premier engineering research agency of Texas, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), which conducts research to provide practical answers to critical state and national needs, will be heavily involved from the Texas A&M University System and according to Katherine Banks, Director of TEES and Vice Chancellor of Engineering, “This is a unique opportunity to meet the needs of engineering, geosciences and agriculture and life sciences researchers to expand in areas not feasible before with small-scale HPC systems.”

“IBM and the Texas A&M System have crafted a unique collaboration that could apply computational science and big data analytics to some of the most daunting problems in agriculture, geosciences and engineering,” said William LaFontaine, Vice President of High Performance Analytics and Cognitive Markets at IBM. “With the combined research capabilities of both institutions and ready access to state-of-the-art computing technology, we feel this collaboration could produce significant scientific insights leading to industry-changing solutions and material economic impact. We are extremely pleased to be engaged with such extraordinarily capable institutions in the A&M System and look forward to years of discovery and innovation.”

TEES partners with academic institutions, governmental agencies, industries, and communities to solve problems to help improve the quality of life, promote economic development, and enhance the educational systems of Texas. It is intimately connected with the College of Engineering of Texas A&M University, which is undergoing an unprecedented growth to become a College with 25,000 students by the year 2025 and hire a new generation of faculty who will be addressing the Nation’s needs for research and technology development.

In support of the long-term research effort, IBM will supply to the A&M System cutting edge technical computing technologies, which will be cloud-enabled. The A&M System will deploy a research computing cloud that will comprise of IBM hardware and software including:

  • Blue Gene/Q: Serving as the foundation of the computing infrastructure, a Blue Gene/Q system consisting of two racks, with more than 2,000 compute nodes, will provide 418 teraflops (TF) of sustained performance for big data analytics, complex modeling, and simulation of molecular dynamics, protein folding and organ modeling.
  • Power Systems: A total of 75 PowerLinux 7R2 servers with POWER7+ microprocessors will be connected by 10GbE into a system optimized for big data and analytics and high performance computing. This complex includes IBM BigInsights and Platform Symphony software, IBM Platform LSF scheduler, and IBM General Parallel File System.
  • System x: The solution will contain an estimated 900 IBM System x dense hyperscale compute nodes as part of an IBM NeXtScale system. Some of the nodes will be managed by Platform Cluster Manager Advanced Edition (PCM-AE) as a University-wide HPC cloud while the others will be managed by Platform Cluster Manager Standard Edition (PCM-SE) and serve as a general purpose compute infrastructure for the geosciences and open source analytics initiatives.
  • Platform Computing: Platform Computing software will be used to manage and accelerate various computational workloads. Platform Symphony will drive big data and analytics, and Platform LSF will drive traditional HPC and technical computing workloads. Platform Computing will also power the creation of an HPC cloud, allowing users within the A&M System access to the system.
  • General Parallel File System (GPFS): Five IBM System x GPFS Storage Servers (GSS) will provide five petabytes (PB) of shared storage for use by the compute building blocks using high-speed networks. GPFS will also include an IBM FlashSystem 820 tier with 10 terabytes (TB) of flash storage, delivering performance to accelerate computation for use primarily by Texas A&M Agrilife Research, Geosciences and university HPC as a part of the research computing infrastructure.

Furthermore, IBM will work with researchers at the A&M System to assess new computing technologies that will be necessary to advance data-driven science discovery and innovation over the next several years.


Sharp Solutions: October/November 2013 Newsletter

Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System

The Momentum Continues

I am pleased to forward two more pieces of great news concerning Texas A&M University and The Texas A&M University System — one of which has been near and dear to my heart for a long time.

Today, I joined Gov. Rick Perry, President of Israel, Shimon Peres, Israel Minister of Education, Shay Piron, and other key education and administration officials to formally announce that the Texas A&M System has signed an agreement with the State of Israel to open the first comprehensive university of the first class in Israel.

This is one of the most memorable occasions of my career in public service. It is an opportunity for education to lead the way to peace, and one that we are honored to be a part of. If not for the hard work of many, Texas A&M University at Nazareth – Peace Campus would not be a reality. I’d like to thank Gov. Perry and the Texas A&M System Board of Regents for their support in making this dream come true, and look forward to our continued work with President Peres and Minister Piron.

From left to right: Dr. Avital Stein, Chancellor John Sharp, Israel Minister of Education, Shay Piron, President Shimon Peres, Gov. Rick Perry, and Professor Manuel Trajtenberg.

Secondly, as you know, our former students are known to distinguish themselves in companies wherever they live and work. I know this to be true as well, but the London-based Times Higher Education, has now produced the listing, “Alma Mater Index: Global Executives,” that verifies Aggies are some of the best leaders in the world. That study identifies Texas A&M as having the most global CEOs among any public university in the United States. This is truly a sign of excellence that is nurtured through an education at Texas A&M.

It is certainly a great time to be an Aggie! Gig ‘em!

John Sharp

Underlined text are links to additional information online.

Sharp Solutions: September 2013 Newsletter

Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System

Boosting National Ranking

The fervor surrounding Texas A&M University reached a high pitch this weekend with the most anticipated college football game of the 2013 season. No longer a freshman in the Southeastern Conference, we’ve shown we’re capable of capturing and holding the attention of the nation, and Texas A&M is now gaining widespread recognition for its excellence in academics and world-class research.

This elevated awareness has helped Texas A&M join the ranks of the nation’s top fundraising institutions in higher education — public or private — with a record $740 million-plus raised within the past year, outpacing every university in the state and most in the nation.

The record results are due in large part to an influx of significant gifts from individuals and corporate donors investing in academics and research, including $31 million for construction of a new engineering complex, part of the 25 by 25 initiative, which aims to enroll 25,000 engineering students by 2025; $20 million to support the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy; and $205 million in estate gift commitments.

This outpouring of private support for Texas A&M reflects a deep commitment to the value of higher education and is the result of the loyalty and respect the university has fostered since its establishment in 1871. I couldn’t be more proud to be an Aggie — Gig ‘em!

Structuring Status

With the merger of Texas A&M Health Science Center with Texas A&M now complete, President R. Bowen Loftin has announced that Dr. Brett Giroir, currently my vice chancellor of strategic initiatives for The Texas A&M University System, will serve as interim executive vice president for TAMHSC, effective Oct. 1, 2013.

An internationally renowned physician-scientist whose work has focused on life-threatening infectious diseases, Dr. Giroir led our efforts to secure the $285.6 million government contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, better known as the BARDA project, to develop the Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development & Manufacturing and enhance the nation’s emergency preparedness against emerging infectious diseases and other threats.

In conjunction with Dr. Giroir’s move, I have transferred the administration of the BARDA project and the Center for Innovation to TAMHSC. This ensures that all research expenditures associated with the project will contribute to Texas A&M’s national research rankings and dramatically raise the research status of TAMHSC.

TAMHSC’s consolidation with Texas A&M immediately provides a 10 percent increase in the university’s research expenditures. And as the BARDA project unfolds, this move has the potential to propel Texas A&M Health Science Center from a fourth-tier to a second-tier research institution, roughly the equivalent of the long-established University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

I know there was some controversy when I first spoke of moving the Health Science Center to Texas A&M, but I hope that it is now clear how this greatly benefits not only the university, but TAMHSC as well, enabling further collaboration and the integration of academic disciplines required for innovation and new life-saving discoveries.

Conserving Wildlife Habitats with Prescribed BurnsTexas A&M Forest Service aids in the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem with a diversity of plants and trees and improved wildlife habitats through prescribed burns, the carefully planned and deliberate use of fire as a land management and conservation tool. See how prescribed burns actually protected some parts of Bastrop State Park from the devastating wildfires of 2011 in this video, “A Land in Balance: Benefits of a Prescribed Burn.”Conserving Wildlife Habitats with Prescribed Burns



Developing Shale Sustainability

The Board of Regents also recently approved Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s Eagle Ford Center for Research, Education and Outreach (EFCREO), housed in the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering. Bringing together industry and local communities, the Center will help make the Eagle Ford Shale play as sustainable as possible in terms of technological improvements, environmental protection, the social fabric of the affected communities and the overall economic development of the region. EFCREO also will provide students with research opportunities, preparing them for careers in fields associated with the natural gas play and unconventional oil/gas production. The Eagle Ford Shale activity is projected to continue for the next 40-70 years; continuing development will require a skilled workforce. The Center will begin offering short training classes beginning in November to professionals in the field seeking to expand their skill set.

Improving the Health of Animals and Humans

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents recently approved a new Center for Bioinformatics and Genomics Systems Engineering on the campus of Texas A&M Universityin College Station. A joint project of Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, the center leverages Texas A&M’s strengths in contemporary engineering systems theory and life sciences, translating the mathematical formulation of molecular-level medicine into diagnostic and therapeutic applications for human and animal health. In addition to the development of improved food and fiber around the globe, the center will train doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers, enrolling between 25 and 30 students within the next two years. Read more here.

Offering Firsthand Media Mentoring

Univision, the first Spanish-language broadcast television network in the United States, has signed a multi-year lease for space at Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s Educational & Cultural Arts Center. The agreement offers Univision an important presence in the downtown San Antonio area, while A&M-San Antonio communications students will also benefit firsthand from the mentorship of journalism professionals who work at an award-winning, community-oriented newsroom such as KWEX-TV. Univision has a long-standing commitment to educational initiatives and the San Antonio area having also just announced the opening of new, state-of-the-art facilities in north San Antonio.Educational & Cultural Arts Center

Become involved, join the Chancellor’s Century Council

The Chancellor’s Century Council is a group of individuals interested in the future of Texas higher education who provide the chancellor a means to advance the goals and objectives of The Texas A&M University System. Members participate in various A&M System activities across the state and throughout the nation. There are varying membership levels available. Find out how to join.


The “Sharp’s Solutions” email newsletter is published monthly by the Office of the Chancellor to inform community and business leaders of the various initiatives of The Texas A&M University System.

Sharp Solutions: July 2013 Newsletter

Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System

Serving Those Who Serve

Aggies have always answered the call, in times of war and in times of peace. The medals we award those who serve are but tokens of our gratitude. It is the service we give them and their families in return that is our sacred duty. This has been at the core of The Texas A&M University System since our land grant flagship in College Station was created in 1876. That is why I’m pleased to share with you the latest news on four veteran’s initiatives underway throughout the Texas A&M System.

  • Together with Operation College Promise (OCP), a national policy, research and education program supporting the transition and postsecondary advancement of our nation’s veterans, we have launched the Veterans Education Support Network. The project expands the A&M System’s extensive Military Friendly Listserv, adding as many as 500 professionals in higher education and the non-profit sector from about 30 states, to become the nation’s largest interactive network of higher education veterans’ support specialists. The project was initially intended for A&M System members when first introduced in 2010, but rapidly expanded to include more than 325 participants from institutions of higher learning as well as a variety of local, state and federal agencies. It is the only Listserv of its kind directed primarily to those who provide front-line support to student veterans and is frequently used by government agencies to share information directly with the higher education community. The new national partnership with OCP will exponentially increase the power of communications on behalf of America’s student veterans, military personnel and their families wherever they study, live or are deployed.For more on the project, read here.
  • To also show our dedication to America’s heroes and their families, to show “we have their back,” the A&M System participates in the national “Got Your 6″ campaign, a coalition of nonprofit service groups, Hollywood celebrities and industry leaders working together to “bridge the civilian-military divide” and enhance support for America’s military and veterans and their families. Our eleven universities were among the first 50 institutions to sign the Got Your 6 Education Pillar pledge of support for veterans. Watch the A&M System’s “Got Your 6 in Texas” video here.
  • Our nationally recognized Veterans Support Office has completed Best Practices Assessment Visits to all A&M System universities as a way to measure and enhance veterans support services across our academic campuses. We’ve now shared the assessment methodology with the Texas Veterans Commission to assist in a new statewide program aimed at measuring and improving veterans services at all universities and colleges in Texas.
  • And, through our close work with the Texas Legislature this session, $30 million in immediate state relief funds were approved for the Hazlewood Program, which is critical in helping servicemen and women and their dependents access quality education. Texas A&M University is expected to bring in about $7 million of these funds. An endowment is also being created by the state and managed by the state Comptroller to help offset future costs of the Hazlewood Act. The program will also be transferred to the Texas Veterans Commission — an agency with which our Veterans Support Office works closely.

At the Texas A&M System, serving those who serve is an ongoing mission.

Biomedical Leaders Emerge

After much planning and coordination, the Texas A&M Health Science Center is now officially part of Texas A&M University, merging two leaders in biomedical education and research for a more collaborative and competitive position nationwide. I requested the move and it was initially authorized in August 2012 by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. Complete execution of the transition is slated over the next 12 months with no plans to move or close any campuses or programs. You can find more details about the merger here.Health Science Center

Gulf Guardians AwardGulf Guardians AwardThe Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has been recognized by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency with a Gulf Guardian Award for its work on an international reseach project. “Gulf 360: State of the Gulf of Mexico” is a collaborative effort involving Cuba, Mexico and the five Gulf states of the United States, highlighting similarities and differences as well as the natural and socioeconomic connections shared by people and nations of the Gulf. Read here for more on the team’s work and recognition.


Tops in Texas

Texas A&M University-Commerce is ranked No. 1 in the Online College Database’s list of“Top U.S. Colleges & Universities for Teaching Education.” A&M-Commerce was the only institution chosen from the state of Texas and was ranked No. 13 in the nation. “Since the earliest days of East Texas Normal College, teacher preparation has been a core element of our university’s mission. To be ranked as one of the best universities in the nation in preparing students for this critically important and noble profession is a testament to the tremendous dedication and excellence of our faculty,” said Dr. Dan R. Jones, president of A&M-Commerce. Read more about the ranking here.

Easier for Einstein

A bachelor of science degree in physics just became more accessible and affordable thanks to the new Texas Physics Consortium, approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The program offers considerable costs savings and expands access to underserved student populations by combining the faculty and resources of Tarleton State University, West Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, A&M-Corpus Christi, Prairie View A&M University, Texas Southern University and Midwestern State University. Traditional in-classroom course work and interactive online video classes will be offered for students pursuing a physics degree or enrolled in a secondary math/physics teacher certification program. Find more information here on the Texas Physics Consortium.

In-Demand Degrees

The work done by students at WTAMU School of Engineering and Computer Science is more than theoretical. Hands-on research prepares students for in-demand jobs in the real world. See how below.

 WTAMU School of Engineering and Computer ScienceBecome involved, join the Chancellor’s Century Council

The Chancellor’s Century Council is a group of individuals interested in the future of Texas higher education who provide the chancellor a means to advance the goals and objectives of The Texas A&M University System. Members participate in various A&M System activities across the state and throughout the nation. There are varying membership levels available. Find out how to join.


The “Sharp’s Solutions” email newsletter is published monthly by the Office of the Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System to inform community and business leaders of the various initiatives of Chancellor John Sharp.

Sharp Solutions: June 2013 Newsletter

Chancellor John Sharp from The Texas A&M University System

Howdy Grows Bigger

Education and innovation know no bounds in The Texas A&M University System. We are continuing to grow in influence — across the state, the nation and the world.

The 83rd regular session of the Texas Legislature culminated in the A&M System securing critical funding for many priorities, thanks to many long hours worked by staff and support of Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, Speaker Straus and members of the Legislature.

Though as of this date it seems unlikely tuition revenue bonds for still much-needed renovations, repairs and new construction will be added to the special legislative session agenda, I am pleased with the investment in higher education approved, including:

  • $142 million more in financial aid for students at general academic institutions statewide
  • Restoration of nearly $120 million in TEXAS Grants, further aiding Texas students
  • Over $59 million more in funding for Texas A&M System member universities
  • $52 million more than last biennium for Texas A&M agriculture programs and $15 million more for Texas A&M engineering programs
  • Over $44 million in formula funding for the Texas A&M Health Science Center
  • $11 million for general institutional enhancements at A&M System regional universities
  • And added funding for the state’s Competitive Knowledge Fund and the Hazlewood veterans tuition program.

We also received approval for use of Brazos County Hotel Occupancy Tax for the redevelopment of Kyle Field, and for the A&M System Board of Regents to lease land for renovation of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Corps of Cadets dorms on the main campus of Texas A&M.

I extend my thanks to all who have worked so hard to promote education excellence throughout the A&M System. A more complete list of these legislative accomplishments and more can be found here.

John Sharp

Google It: Innovation

One reward for all that hard work mentioned above can be seen in our groundbreaking new agreement with Google and Motorola’s Mobility Advanced Technology and Projects. This partnership will accelerate the overall pace of innovation, dramatically streamlining the generation of new joint research projects and paving the way for more rapid commercialization of fundamental new technologies. Texas A&M University is in good company with other premier U.S. research university partners, including Harvard University, California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Virginia Tech. We believe this is one of the first collaborations of its kind with a real focus on fast tracking discovery to consumers for greater benefit, and it could be the national model upon which companies and universities collaborate in the future. Our selection once again proves Texas A&M is one of the premier research universities in America. More details on this partnership can be found here.

Solar Warriors Powered Up

Solar Warriors Powered UpIn another innovative, potentially market-changing scientific and educational collaboration,Texas A&M University-Central Texas, “Home of the Warriors” and one of the youngest A&M System members, will soon help meet all the energy needs of the campus and 20,000 homes in the Killeen area through the new Center for Solar Energy developed in partnership with PPA Partners, a leading solar development company headquartered in California. The largest solar test site in the world, the new center in Killeen will be an incubation program to develop early-stage technologies in solar power with the goal of attracting capital investors and bringing those technologies to the marketplace within two years. The center will create unmatched educational opportunities for students at A&M-Central Texas as well as cleantech jobs, new businesses and substantial additional revenues for the region. Read more on this innovative partnership here.



Maroon Grows Greener: Wind Energy Harnessed

Ground was broken in a ceremony earlier this month by West Texas A&M University for a large-scale wind-turbine testing facility in the Texas Panhandle. The green-energy project, located on 60 acres of school land just seven miles east of Canyon, is part of a five-year contract with an Underwriters Laboratories unit, The DEWI Group, for a testing facility that will also include research and design work. The UL/WTAMU Advanced Wind Turbine Test Facility, one of the largest in the world, will build on the university’s more than 40 years of experience with wind energy and turbines says Don Toplofty, dean of the College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering at WTAMU. About 2,400 acres near the new facility will also be available for development and growth. Read more here.

TEEX Delivers MOST: Job Training On-Site

TEEX Delivers MOST: Job Training On-SiteA partnership between Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service and M.O.S.T. delivers an intense, fast-paced and customized selection, training and placement program for welders, computer numerically controlled operators, machine operators and maintenance technicians with an on-site mobile training unit for companies seeking new skilled and job-ready employees.

Become involved, join the Chancellor’s Century Council

The Chancellor’s Century Council is a group of individuals interested in the future of Texas higher education who provide the chancellor a means to advance the goals and objectives of The Texas A&M University System. Members participate in various A&M System activities across the state and throughout the nation. There are varying membership levels available. Find out how to join.

The “Sharp’s Solutions” email newsletter is published monthly by the Office of the Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System to inform community and business leaders of the various initiatives of Chancellor John Sharp.