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Supercomputer Center Heading Downtown

‘Smart sensor’ military technology project is funded in defense bill

October 8, 2009
By IAN HICKS Staff Writer

WHEELING - In a few weeks, downtown Wheeling will be home to a supercomputing center designed to develop "smart sensor" military technology.

U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., on Wednesday announced the Senate's passage of the $113 million Department of Defense Appropriations Bill for fiscal 2010. That legislation includes $10 million for a Smart Sensor Supercomputing Center operated by TTi Technologies Inc. of Washington, D.C., which has a secure data center in Wheeling on the third floor of the Horne Building, 1100 Main St.

TTi Technologies President Theodora Titonis said the new facility will be near that location, on the fifth floor of the Stone Center @ Market Plaza, 1025 Market St., and the company hopes to have the facility complete by Nov. 1. An open house by invitation for state and local government officials is planned for Nov. 19, she added.

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Photo by Ian Hicks
The fifth floor of the Stone Center @ Market Plaza at 1025 Market St., Wheeling, soon will be home to a military supercomputer. The new facility, operated jointly by TTi Technologies and Vista Research, is expected to generate between 10 and 45 high-tech jobs and millions in revenue within the state.

With a $5.8 million contract recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense, Titonis said the center should immediately generate 10 "high-tech" jobs paying between $50,000 and $100,000 annually. Pending final approval of the proposed 2010 budget, she said, the facility could employ up to 45 people at those salaries.

According to a news release from TTi, the supercomputing center should generate more than $15 million in revenue in the Mountain State within its first two years.

"Smart sensor" technology is designed to improve U.S. Army surveillance capabilities, save soldiers' lives and reduce manpower costs. TTi Technologies and Vista Research Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., recently won a contract to perform the work, according to a news release from Byrd's office.

The technology to be developed at the Wheeling facility should enable the military to more accurately interpret data collected by detection sensors for border security and "military protection activities," the release states.

According to Titonis, TTi Technologies will assist Vista Research in software development as well as provide for data security. She said the supercomputer itself would be housed in the Stone Center.

"Wheeling provides our federal government partners reduced overhead and reduced costs and the technology will be used to save lives in Afghanistan," said Titonis. "It's a wonderful asset for Wheeling. It will provide unprecedented computing capability."

According to Titonis, lower energy costs as well as an average square-footage rate "a quarter" of that in Washington, D.C., and California, make Wheeling a prime location for such an operation.

She said no employees currently work at the company's office in the Horne Building. Previously occupied by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney's office, the Horne Building received clearance for use as a federal government building due to its bulletproof windows, floors and "tamper-proof data and voice infrastructure," according to the TTi's Web site.

Byrd believes the funding will be an economic boon for the Mountain State.

"This funding keeps West Virginians on the job, our country's defenses strong and our economic engine humming," Byrd said in the release.

Byrd is the senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

"Much of this work being conducted throughout the state of West Virginia is cutting edge technology that will have spillover effects for the private sector, and I am pleased that we have been able to once again support these efforts in these tough economic times," he continued.

Byrd also earmarked funding for the following projects statewide in the proposed 2010 budget:

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