Navajo Technical College Takes Internet to Hogans

Feb 15th, 2007 | By | Category: 18-3: Building Prosperity, Tribal College News
By Steve Grey


MEASURING BANDWIDTH. Navajo Technical College students use equipment to read measurements off a laptop. Photo Credit: Navajo Technical College IT program

Navajo Technical College (NTC, Crownpoint, NM, formerly named the Crownpoint Institute of Technology) has partnered with Navajo Nation for the Internet to the Hogan Project. The project will ensure technology is an integral part of the Navajo community development in education, health care, public safety, and economics.

People who have never had access to a personal phone will be able to connect at high bandwidth speeds to the World Wide Web.

The first phase of the project is designed to build a major wireless pipe using 0C3 speeds and the Lambda Rail from downtown, urban Albuquerque, NM, to NTC. From Crownpoint, using backhaul technology and canopy technology, broadband connectivity is being built to 31 chapter houses.

The chapter houses serve as community centers for social, cultural, and political organization on the New Mexico side of the Navajo Nation. Canopy technology will allow connectivity to be radiated out from community centers to schools, medical clinics, hospitals, police departments, firehouses, and homes within a 15- to 30-mile radius of the chapter houses.

One part of the project was building an IBM blade cluster on the NTC campus. This cluster brings supercomputing capabilities to research and education projects at the college, moving it toward the forefront of research institutions of higher learning in New Mexico.

Tied into both the wireless connectivity and cluster effort is the construction of a supercomputing grid using a technology called Little Fe, which allows the inexpensive building of a cluster that can be located at a school or chapter house.

These Little Fes effectively make possible a distributed supercomputing grid that can allow research and education activities to take advantage of the enormous powers and speeds of supercomputers tied into a single grid architecture.

The connectivity effort involves partnerships built with TeraGrid. High-performance networks will integrate high-performance computers, data resources and tools, and high-end experimental facilities around the country; the University of New Mexico’s high performance computing center; and national laboratories, scientists, and universities from around the world.

E-Learning programs will bring the excitement of advanced collaborative education models to the most remote communities in the United States. This E-Learning system (based upon open source software like Moodle) is especially useful for science, technology, engineering, and math education that teaches students how to collaborate over distance.

With this project, enterprises in remote education communities could compete in niche and national markets. This would allow Navajo people to become leaders in diverse fields ranging from arts and crafts to technological and scientific innovation.

The Internet to the Hogan project could create a real world model for eliminating the digital divide. It will also answer the last mile problem by providing broadband connectivity service for data, voice, and video to some of the most remote communities and households in the continental United States.

NTC and its Native staff are providing significant portions of the expertise needed to engineer and implement the project. Partners in the project include the San Diego Supercomputing Center, High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network at University of California San Diego, Computer Science and Engineering, Terra Grid Project, Department of Energy National Laboratories, and the Navajo Nation.

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