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MCI Presents Million-Dollar Gift

From Cavalier Daily
February 17, 1997

By Claire Edwards, Senior Writer

What nearly went to the trash became a $1 million gift when MCI officials turned the rights to six high-speed -- and highly valuable -- data switches over to Engineering School researchers Friday.

The Cisco Lightstream brand data switches route data "traffic" within a network by opening and closing pathways. This data routing enables the network to deal with large amounts of information, like high-quality video images.

MCI media representative Tracy B. Smith said the switches were formerly a part of MCI's Very High Speed Backbone Network. VBNS allows scientists to study problems by using mathematical models and algorithms. Recently, though, MCI officials decided to update the VBNS, rendering the switches obsolete.

"MCI was just going to put them out for disposal," Smith said.

But one MCI employee had a better idea. Computer Science Asst. Prof. Jorg Liebeherr said University alumnus Kevin Thompson, an MCI employee, contacted computer science professors to ask if they needed the switches.

Thompson then convinced MCI that the donation to the University would be a worthy one.

"He was very good. He fought for us," Liebeherr said.

At Friday's televised dedication ceremony, Liebeherr and other researchers from the Engineering and Medical schools demonstrated the use of the Digital Image Processing Network, which already incorporates the switches. The demonstration involved transferring live video between the radiology department of the Medical School and the computer department.

Liebeherr said the Medical School and the Engineering School will continue to use the network together.

"The objective is to build a virtual center that brings together researchers from the Medical School and the Engineering School to work together on medical image processing," he said.

Video Clip of Channel 29 Television coverage of MCI press conference:
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