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Pieces of Eight

at open house
Dozens of visitors came to ECU’s new high-powered computing facility, RENCI/CSIM, in the Rivers Building for Open House Nov. 1. In addition to a traveling high-tech van, ECU also has a new Visualization Wall in the Brewster Building that enables large-scale images and projects to be projected. (Photo by Jeannine Manning Hutson)

Visitors Investigate Technology at RENCI Open House

By Erica Plouffe Lazure

East Carolina University’s high-tech coastal system research facility, RENCI/CSIM, welcomed faculty and students Nov. 1 to its Open House.

Housed primarily in the Rivers Building, the Renaissance Computing Institute/Center for Coastal Systems Informatics and Modeling – RENCI/CSIM, for short – introduced more than 30 faculty members and students interested in the center’s capabilities and funding opportunities.

“The mission of RENCI/CSIM at ECU is to support research, outreach, and education that improve our understanding and management of the interaction between physical and biological processes and human activities in North Carolina’s Coastal Region,” said director Jamie Brown Kruse.

RENCI/CSIM comes to ECU as part of a $1.7 million grant from the Chapel Hill-based Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI). The mission of RENCI/CSIM is to support research and outreach that improves understanding of how geographic features, biological coastal processes, and human activity interact and affect the environment, economy, and social systems of North Carolina’s coastal region.

Kruse welcomed the visitors to the facility and provided information about the genesis and purpose of RENCI/CSIM, its current grants and projects, fellowship and assistantship support opportunities for graduate students and researchers, and outreach initiatives for K-12 students and teachers.

The event enabled faculty, staff, and students to be introduced to technology such as the VisWall, as well as the media-equipped RENCI Rover van. The van has a generator, a set of laptops, Global Positioning System equipment, and Internet access, providing opportunities for research and outreach projects in remote locations.

Tom Allen, the center’s director of technology and geography professor, demonstrated ECU’s new Visualization Wall, a 20-foot by six-foot high-res projection screen with 3-D capability housed in the Brewster Building.

Donna Kain, director of outreach for the facility and professor of English, said she enjoyed meeting the people who came to the open house. “It has already generated additional meetings with faculty interested in partnering with us on research and outreach,” she said.

Contact Donna Kain by e-mail ( or phone, 252-737-1770. Visit the RENCI/CSIM website at

This page originally appeared in the Dec. 7, 2007 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at