CENIC: Connecting Students and Researchers to Yosemite National Park
Thanks to a partnership between CENIC (which operates the California Research and Education Network), the University of California Merced, and the National Park Service, students visiting Yosemite National Park will soon be able to collect data, analyze it, and compare it with scientists from across the globe. To make this happen, the “Yosemite Connect” project will bring a fixed wireless connection to the new NatureBridge campus. The Yosemite Connect project furthers CENIC’s ongoing goal to provide quality high-speed broadband service to research and education institutions, including unserved and underserved populations.
NatureBridge is the largest non-profit educational partner of the National Park Service. It works to bring students from underserved communities to national parks and provide multi-day environmental science programs for K-12 students in Yosemite and five other national parks. “The idea was what if we did lectures at NatureBridge’s site that could be reached by a student in Africa or Russia or Bolivia simultaneously, and what if those students could interact with our students?” said Steve Shackleton, the academic coordinator at UC Merced and former head ranger at Yosemite.
In addition to helping students, Yosemite Connect also adds a redundant connection for UC Merced. “We want to be able to rely on an alternate path so that we have continuity of critical services like central authentication and business services, and all these things you need to run a university,” said Jeffrey Weekley, director of cyberinfrastructure and research computing at UC Merced.
Louis Fox, president and CEO of CENIC, said, “This project is a shining success story of how close collaboration among partners can serve shared goals and various needs – in this case, providing connectivity to researchers at UC Merced who are engaged in research and education programs in the Park; supporting joint science initiatives of Yosemite, UCM, and other research universities; ensuring that Yosemite programs and initiatives are well connected beyond the park; and supporting the nascent UCM-Yosemite National Park Leadership Institute.”