Act intended to strengthen WIU involvement in tech development
MACOMB — With a new era of cybersecurity concerns combined with a global economy, President Barack Obama on Friday signed a bill by Congressman Darin LaHood into law that revitalizes the nation’s information technology research development act.
LaHood, R-Dunlap, authored the Networking and Information Technology Research Development Modernization Act of 2016 to update and improve the federal government’s approach to computing, software, networking and cybersecurity.
According to LaHood, the NITRD program hadn’t been updated since the 1990s.
“By modernizing and improving it, government and private companies will have opportunities to advance how they learn, conduct business and maintain a strong national security apparatus,” he said. “This will improve communications between federal and private partnerships — such as ones already established at the University of Illinois, Caterpillar and Western Illinois University.”
The more historically broad reaching aspect of the program has been with the Blue Waters Supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University fo Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. According to LaHood, Caterpillar has worked with the Blue Waters Supercomputer since the 1990s in advantageous product development and digital simulation for product designs.
Caterpillar Inc. released the statement: “Enhanced technology and connectivity is essential to our engineers and their efforts to perform rapid simulation and advance product design while stretching their imaginations toward better solutions.”
In June 2011, the Quad Cities Manufacturing Lab, headquartered at the Rock Island Arsenal, finalized a contract with Western Illinois University and the U.S. Department of Defense for research and development of technologies.
“At Western Illinois University, we are very pleased that Rep. LaHood’s bill was signed by President Obama," said WIU Provost Kathy Neumann. "As our university continues to work on projects with the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, the opportunity to access supercomputers – like those supported by federal NITRD investment – would enhance opportunities the university has already garnered."
The Quad Cities Manufacturing Lab and WIU's School of Engineering have been creating a 3D metal printer to work on legacy repair parts for the military, and the opportunity to use supercomputing technology to test the parts created would be useful for continued research.
"We want to thank Congressman LaHood for championing this bill, which has such a tangible impact on our University and its students," added Neumann.
The bill is the second of LaHood’s to be signed into law since he took office on Sept. 17, 2015.
LaHood was elected to fill the vacancy left by former Congressman Aaron Schock. LaHood was re-elected to maintain the seat in the Nov. 8, 2016, general election. His first bill to be signed into law was the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act of 2016.
That act supports fish and wildlife in the Great Lakes, and is intended to “revitalize daily commercial, recreational, and preservation activities throughout the waterways in Illinois.”
Reach Jared DuBach by email at jdubach@McDonoughVoice.com, or follow him on Twitter@JaredDuBach.