A Quick Study: How Oregon State Accelerates Learning with NVIDIA GRID

by Anne Hecht

Running a graphics-intensive application like AutoCAD or SOLIDWORKS takes some big-time compute power.

Delivering those same kinds of apps to 10,000 students anywhere in the world takes Ph.D.-level smarts.

That’s just what Oregon State University’s College of Engineering was able to pull off thanks to NVIDIA GRID.

The college serves more than 10,000 students on OSU’s Corvallis campus and via Ecampus, its distance learning program. Its challenge: Delivering a computer lab filled with graphics-intensive applications like AutoCAD, Cadence, SOLIDWORKS and MatLab to those far-flung students without compromising performance.

“Poor application performance hinders study,” says Todd Shechter, director of IT for the College of Engineering at Oregon State. “Distance learners need to have the exact same native-like experience as if they were on campus.”

NVIDIA GRID lets organizations offer data-heavy applications to their users virtually, without a drop in application performance. NVIDIA GRID and Tesla M60 GPU accelerators run the powerful, GPU-accelerated applications in the college’s data center. Students access the apps by logging into a virtual workstation from their laptops, tablets or other devices.

For OSU’s College of Engineering, virtualization with NVIDIA GRID has changed the way it delivers classes, and how students collaborate and study. Case in point: Its new Johnson Hall engineering building is the campus’s first without a traditional computer lab.

Instead they’ve provided lots of open space for students to work together. Just desks, large tables and plenty of power outlets.

“It’s very cool to see how students just eat this space up,” said Shechter. “At any given time, you’ll see four or five students sitting around the table with their laptops open. This place is jam-packed during the day and it’s all students, together or independently, taking advantage of this great technology.”

You can learn more from Shechter and his graphics-accelerated virtualization environment in a webcast for Campus Technology on April 4 at 11 am PT.