An eye-opening internship at OH-TECH

Communications Intern, Former
Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 9:42am

I confess that when I joined the Ohio Technology Consortium as a communications intern during my sophomore year at The Ohio State University, I had only a surface-level understanding of what OH-TECH’s members do. I understood that OARnet supplies broadband to colleges and universities, I knew OhioLINK provides research articles to students, and I had a vague understanding of what supercomputers do and how they are used by Ohio Supercomputer Center clients.

Because I graduated this past December, my time at OH-TECH is sadly coming to a close. But in my two years here, I have learned so much about what OARnet, OhioLINK, and OSC do behind the scenes and, more importantly, why they are so critical to Ohioans.

Another example the OH-TECH presence is a project at Ohio State’s F.T. Stone Laboratory. The project helped counter harmful algae blooms in Ohio’s lakes. OARnet provided a new Ethernet circuit that doubled the bandwidth available to the Laboratory. The project brought together OSC, research labs from Ohio colleges and universities, and state and federal agencies. OhioLINK’s EJC provided these researchers with a repository of information vital to their work.

Not only that, I’ve also learned how many researchers depend on all three OH-TECH organizations at the same time. And thanks to the seamless manner in which all three are run, many researchers may not even know how much they depend on all three.

This especially came into focus when I was writing a case study for OSC’s annual research report about how Thomas LaFramboise, Ph.D. – an associate professor at Case Western Reserve University – is using OSC’s Owens Cluster to discover which genetic mutations determine a person’s likelihood of developing leukemia. While writing this story, I realized that because LaFramboise works out of CWRU, he relies on OARnet for broadband. I also discovered that he has many research journals available in OhioLINK’s EJC. One of my colleagues on the communications team dubbed this the “OH-TECH triple threat,” defining when researchers and organizations use all three of our consortium members’ services.

Another example of the OH-TECH triple threat is a recent OARnet initiative in which OARnet created a new Ethernet circuit that more than doubled the bandwidth available for Ohio State’s F.T. Stone Laboratory. The project helped counter harmful algae blooms in Ohio’s lakes by bringing together OSC, research labs from Ohio colleges and universities, and state and federal agencies. OhioLINK’s EJC provided these researchers with a repository of information vital to their work.

Again, an interesting aspect of the OH-TECH triple threat is that OSC, OARnet, and OhioLINK complement each other so seamlessly that many people don’t realize they’re using them all regularly. It’s like driving a car; you probably don’t think about your car’s engine unless it’s making a funny sound or refusing to start. As a student, I didn’t realize until I started at OH-TECH that my OSU Wireless internet connection was provided by OARnet. It never crossed my mind because I always had a good internet connection. I never needed to think twice about what was going on under the hood.

During my time at OH-TECH, I realized that, whenever I spent afternoons at Thompson Library making flashcards on, OARnet was supplying my internet connection. I learned that when I scoured the OSU library website for useful articles for research papers, OhioLINK was running the show. I discovered that professors all across the state are using OSC to research and gain insight on a topic — say, fighting cancer — that could affect my future.

Working as a communications intern at the Ohio Technology Consortium was one of the highlights of my college experience. Not only did I receive two years of valuable work experience and become friends with my wonderful colleagues, but I also gained an in-depth understanding of the driving forces behind many of Ohio’s universities, its organizations, and its economy. While OARnet, OhioLINK, and OSC may be three distinct organizations that serve the state in different ways, they are all connected.

And because of them, Ohio is in good hands.