CLEMSON — Investments by C. Tycho Howle of Atlanta and an anonymous private sector partner, along with a state match, total $4 million to support an endowed chair position in the Cyber-Institute Center of Economic Excellence (CoEE) at Clemson University.

The center’s primary focus will be to develop novel software-based approaches and new computational capabilities to solve complex societal issues and meet complex human and business needs. The endowed chair holder will be the academic leader of the center and hold the title “hf Flagship Endowed Chair in Human Centered Computing in the Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.” Human-centered computing is an emerging field focused on making computational technologies more usable and how computational technologies affect society. 

“The holder of the endowed chair in human-centered computing will be a catalyst for bringing together an interdisciplinary research team involving a wide range of computing applications in engineering, physics, biology, psychology, sociology and many other fields,” said Holcombe Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Chair Darren Dawson. “This multidisciplinary team will develop software-based approaches and computational capabilities to build new tools and methods to gain a better perspective on their research. For example, when a computer combines a map with the data from thousands of sensors measuring ocean currents and temperatures around the globe, a collection of numbers can become a stunning visualization that helps us understand shifting climate patterns. Likewise, a computer-generated visualization can help a surgeon better understand what is happening inside a patient's heart before ever picking up a scalpel.”

“In order to solve many of today’s complex societal issues, we must be able to analyze and understand large amounts of data,” said James Bottum, Clemson’s chief information officer and principal investigator of the CoEE proposal. “To do this, we often require high performance computer systems, high bandwidth communication systems and innovative user interfaces for remote collaboration. So, the center also will focus on developing new capabilities for improving and expanding electronic collaboration.” 

“This new center will facilitate research, education and workforce development and provide an environment for collaboration,” said Clemson President James F. Barker.  

“These capabilities will allow Clemson researchers to tackle more complex problems and enhance our ability to support economic development in our state. We are grateful to the donors and the State of South Carolina for their vote of confidence in Clemson.”   

Howle and the anonymous private sector partner each invested $1 million to support the research and infrastructure of the center, and that will be matched by the state for a $4 million total investment.

“I’ve had the privilege of an exciting career centered on harnessing the power of computing to make business processes faster, more accurate and more measurable,” said Howle. “But, we’ve only scratched the surface on making the interaction between humans and software more intuitive, informative, accessible and interactive. There is tremendous potential for transformative innovation in this area, and this $4 million investment will help Clemson stay on the forefront of important technology research. The hf Flagship Foundation is honored to support this endowment.”

Howle is founder and chairman of Atlanta-based nuBridges, Inc., a leading provider of software and managed services that help businesses protect and exchange sensitive data in compliance with increasingly tight compliance requirements. He is a long-time supporter of Clemson. Howle received a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in systems engineering — a degree program previously in the electrical and computer engineering department — from Clemson University in 1971. He also holds an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School. A native of Lancaster, he and his wife, Marie, reside in Atlanta.

The South Carolina General Assembly established the Centers of Economic Excellence Program (http://www.sccoee.org/) in 2002, and it is funded through South Carolina Education Lottery proceeds. The legislation authorizes the state’s three public research institutions to use state funds to create Centers of Economic Excellence in research areas that will advance South Carolina’s economy. The state funds must be matched dollar-for-dollar by private investment in the program. The program also supports CoEE endowed chairs, world-renowned scientists who lead the Centers of Economic Excellence.

The Centers of Economic Excellence program has created 12 Centers of Economic Excellence supporting 15 endowed chairs at Clemson to take advantage of the university’s faculty expertise and research strengths. This state program awarded the Cyber-Institute Center of Economic Excellence at Clemson in 2008 with $2 million to be matched in private funds.

END