Idaho’s Education System Ramps Up High Speed Connectivity

Boise– Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed legislation (S 1344) supporting increased bandwidth for the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON).  Idaho’s high speed, fiber optic backbone serves the state’s unique education, research, health care, and government needs.  The IRON network will be upgraded to 100 gigabits per second statewide, allowing for enhanced data exchange and educational opportunities, and direct interaction between the state’s colleges and universities, health care facilities, Idaho National Laboratory and government agencies.

“Our state’s four-year higher education institutions and community colleges, as well as their students are the greatest beneficiaries of IRON, so it makes sense for the higher education budget to include support for the increased bandwidth,” said, Representative Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls), member of the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance Appropriations Committee.

Idaho’s colleges and universities will have expanded capability to simultaneously share instructional programs, modelling and simulation, virtual laboratories, infrastructure, and more.

“Ultimately, this is about investment in a modern workforce,” said Brent Stacey, President of the IRON Board of Directors.  “The more cutting-edge hands on training and education we provide students in Idaho colleges and universities, the better prepared they will be to enter a dynamic workforce.  This is true for students in continuing education programs or those pursuing a certificate or degree,” Stacey continued.

The bandwidth upgrade will be supported by Idaho National Laboratory at a cost in excess of $2 million.  Legislation signed by Governor Otter authorizes the State of Idaho to pay for the ongoing maintenance of the upgrade at a cost of $800,000 per year.  The investment is part of the state’s funding of Idaho’s college and universities budgets.

Senator Dean Mortimer (R-Idaho Falls), a member of the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Senate Education Committee said, “Idaho will see the benefit of this investment; as we see our students enter the workforce more qualified.  We need the IRON upgrade so our students have access to a 21st century education regardless of where they are in the state. The increased access to academic and career technical education programs offered through Idaho’s universities, community colleges and dual credit courses will benefit our students and the state.”

For over 10 years, IRON has provided the infrastructure for reliable, high-speed access and connectivity across Idaho. As a rural state with vast geographical divides, the advanced, secure, high-capacity network is essential for Idaho’s education, research and health care centers. The increased capacity allows Idaho’s educational and research communities to compete for large federal grants and new national research centers where requirements for bandwidth, data security and network redundancy are set at a high standard. It also provides dedicated fiber-optic resources to achieve technical data transfer and storage objectives that would otherwise be unavailable in our state.

“I want to thank the many individuals and organizations who supported this proposal, including Governor Otter, the members of the entire legislature and in particular the members of the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee, the State Board of Education, our college and university presidents, the Idaho National Laboratory and the IRON Charter Associates,” said Stacey. “It was impressive to see the broad support for IRON across the state.”

About the Idaho Regional Optical Network, Inc. IRON ( is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established in 2007 as a cooperative effort between Boise State University, Brigham Young University – Idaho, Idaho State University, University of Idaho, Washington State University, the State of Idaho, the Idaho Hospital Association, and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). IRON provides essential connectivity at speeds up to 100 gigabits, supporting research, education, health care, economic development and state and local governments. IRON, like 40 other Regional Optical Networks across the country, provides connectivity to the Internet, and to Internet2, the nation’s advanced research and education broadband network (



A new National Science Foundation grant will help build for an improved research network at Boise State and across Idaho. Improving the control, speed and ease of transferring large data sets is imperative to advancing Boise State research as the scope and volume of data increases and as the university increasingly relies on distributed and national cyberinfrastructure assets. 

This is the second NSF Campus Cyberinfrastructure – Data, Networking, and Innovation (CC*DNI) grant awarded to Boise State in the past year. Principal investigator for the two-year, $250,605 award is Max Davis-Johnson, associate vice president for information technology, and co-PIs are Harold Blackman, associate vice president for research and economic development, and Lejo Flores, associate professor of geosciences.

Funded research in the future will involve collaboration with other research institutions and big data,” said Davis-Johnson. “This grant will set the foundation for moving huge data sets – huge meaning multiple Terabytes – and allowing Boise State to participate in large collaborative projects across the country.”

The project will expand Boise State’s research network by establishing two science DMZs connected to the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON). A DMZ, or demilitarized zone, is a protected subnetwork that allows researchers and faculty to safely access Internet services and resources without filtering or firewalls, thus making content readily available while protecting the system from cyber-attack. 

The DMZs will be located on the edge of the university network and at the Idaho Computing Consortium site, hosted at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Supercomputing Center.  

Using software defined networks (SDN), OpenFlow switches and an OpenFlow controller enables IRON to switch data traffic at a high throughput rate between researchers at the university and the high performance computing equipment at INL. This enhanced regional research network provides a fast, extremely secure and dynamic network environment for the larger data sets researchers are analyzing with parallel computing using university, NSF and Department of Energy assets.

The project’s goals are three-fold:

•    Build an enterprise-wide science DMZ

•    Improve campus and regional bridging across IRON

•    Enhance the use of computational cyberinfrastructure assets located at INL and at NSF-funded computational science Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) sites 

Utilizing the monitoring software perfSONAR framework throughout the regional optical network allows constant monitoring of throughput, performance and latency issues. The SDN switches and controller allow high transport speed across the regional optical network that is normally slower due to the latency of routed traffic. Reliable high-speed data traffic is the infrastructure that researchers expect as they expand large-scale, data-intensive scientific research.  

This project enhances high performance computing throughout the Idaho research community, the Rocky Mountain Advanced Computer Consortium and the XSEDE.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Media Contact: Kathleen Tuck, University Communications, (208)

About Boise State University

A public metropolitan research university with more than 22,000 students, Boise State is proud to be powered by creativity and innovation. Located in Idaho’s capital city, the university has a growing research agenda and plays a crucial role in the region’s knowledge economy and famed quality of life. In the past 10 years, the university has quadrupled the number of doctoral degrees, doubled its masters degrees and now offers 13 online degree programs. Learn more at

Brian A. Whitlock appointed to IRON board


The Idaho Regional Optical Network Inc. (IRON), a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation organized to provide provide ultra high speed connectivity for research, education and economic development in the state of Idaho, today announced the appointment of Brian A. Whitlock to its board of directors, effective immediately.

Brian Whitlock is the President and CEO of the Idaho Hospital Association (IHA) in Boise, Idaho. He joined the IHA in August 2015.  Brian is the lead spokesperson for IHA; is responsible for state and federal advocacy and legislative representation of the IHA agenda on key political issues; leads the development of new policies and programs that serve membership; manages media communications; is the primary liaison with other health related organizations and business entities on hospital health care developments and issues; and is liaison and staff support to IHA board appointed committees.

“Brian brings extensive experience in policy development to IRON, and will play a key role as IRON executes its strategic vision of providing connectivity among Idaho’s research and educational institutions, and to the global research and education community,” said Daniel R. Ewart, CEO and President of IRON. “His experience in state and government affairs will be a tremendous asset to IRON.”

Prior to joining IRON, Mr. Whitlock served as Director for State and Government Affairs for the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Previously, he was Chief of Staff for Governor Dirk Kempthorne.

“I am honored by the opportunity to contribute to IRON,” said Mr. Whitlock. “IRON is uniquely positioned to serve the state’s needs for research, education and economic development. I intend to leverage my expertise in service of IRON’s mission.”

Mr. Whitlock is also a board member the Idaho Simulation Network, and serves on the Idaho Industrial Commission’s Advisory Committee, the Governor’s Leadership in Nuclear Energy Commission and the Boise Chamber Healthcare Advisory Council.

IRON board of directors consists of members of its Associates, who represent research, education, healthcare and state government in the state of Idaho.

About the Idaho Regional Optical Network, Inc.

IRON’s Charter Associates own and operate a dedicated high-speed fiber optic network infrastructure to support Idaho’s unique research, health care, education and government needs. The IRON network is Idaho’s dedicated connection to other research and education networks throughout the United States and around the world. IRON’s Associates own, not just rent the bandwidth they need to partner in important statewide initiatives as well as large-scale, global research projects. A high-speed network makes innovation and discovery faster and more efficient so that more Idahoans can have greater access to world-class opportunities and grow our economy. IRON’s purpose-built network addresses Idaho’s ever-growing demand for dedicated high-speed fiber optic connectivity.


INL Releases New Grid Desktop Simulation


His 12-year-old daughter has told him the Grid Game is probably not going to be the next Candy Crush Saga, but Idaho National Laboratory research engineer Tim McJunkin still thinks there might be a fair number of people who would like to play at managing the electrical power grid.

McJunkin and a group of fellow engineers and teachers have developed a desktop simulation that allows players to keep load and generation in balance. “Red Team” participants can even mount financial and cyberattacks in real time, making the game even more interesting.

INL Grid GameGrid Game teaches students about electric grid complexity, resilience

“Your average citizen could gain something by learning what has to happen when they turn their lights on,” he said. While there are far more sophisticated simulations available in the industrial sector, McJunkin is hopeful that high schools will pick up on it. He spoke in July at the Idaho Professional Technical Educators Conference, and a pilot rollout will come this fall at Meridian Technical Charter High School.

The objective is simple, he said, “Keep the grid up and keep the customers happy.” Every player has a client and a virtual grid. Game points are earned by providing power and then used to buy more grid assets and grow the grid.

It’s a big balancing act. When a utility generates more power than is in demand, machines speed up until their circuit breakers shut them down. When there is more demand than generation, machines slow down, leading to brownouts and blackouts.

In real life, there’s a lot on the line when it comes to managing electrical power.

A White House report released in 2013 said outages caused by severe weather cost the U.S. economy an average of $18 billion to $33 billion a year. The hits come from lost output and wages, spoiled inventory, delayed production and damage to the electric grid.

Think of the outage in eastern Idaho on Dec. 4, 2014, which left 70,000 people without electricity for up to 10 hours in subzero cold. It started at 5:11 a.m. when roughly 49,000 customers lost power because a circuit breaker was out of service for critical maintenance. When a cold front rolled in from the North Pole, the Balancing Authority – a governmental entity that manages the transmission grid’s stability – ordered utilities in the region to shed load, forcing additional power cuts.

McJunkin seeks to replicate scenarios such as this in the Grid Game, which he admits is a work in progress. To push it to the next level, he is applying for grant money from the National Science Foundation and other organizations.

As an adjunct professor at Idaho State University, McJunkin first developed the Grid Game to give students in a Resilient Control Systems class an idea of how the grid operates. Two colleagues in particular – Craig Rieger, INL’s initiative lead for Instrumentation, Control and Intelligent Systems, and Mike Guryan, distance education coordinator at Idaho Regional Optical Network – encouraged him to expand it to a multiplayer format, allowing participants to buy and sell power, add new generation sources, find new customers and defend themselves from computer-based attacks.

For the last part, McJunkin teamed with Indrajit Ray, a professor of computer science at Colorado State University, for help. Ray and the university’s Hashdump security club developed software that allows hackers to implant denial of service viruses or to siphon off a utility’s money to virtual Swiss bank accounts.

So far, the biggest day out for the Grid Game was in August 2014, when it was featured at the Resilience Week 2014 Conference in Denver.

For the first 15 minutes, players focused on managing their utility. In the second 15 minutes, the hackers from CSU struck, preying on anyone who didn’t think anti-virus software was worth the expense, and taunting mercilessly. By the end, few players had much, if any, money in the bank.

McJunkin said he feels like there is a lot of room for the game to grow. Adding sources of baseload power like coal, natural gas and nuclear is one possibility. Then the game could reflect rules and regulations, which vary from state to state but can have a profound effect on grid operations.

“There’s room for use now and room for development in the future,” he said. “There’s a lot to play with and consider on the real grid.”

By Paul Menser
INL Public Affairs & Strategic Initiatives

From the President

As I assume the responsibility of President and CEO of IRON, I am pleased to report that in October 2014, IRON celebrated its sixth year of operation. Coincidentally, we also completed an upgrade to the network backbone which provides for statewide, 10 Gbps connectivity between Coeur d’Alene, Pullman/Moscow, Clarkston/Lewiston, Boise, Pocatello, and Idaho Falls, in addition to interstate links into Salt Lake City and Spokane. This was made possible by a grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation and those who support IRON. With this substantial increase in bandwidth and connectivity, IRON’s ability to enable collaboration in many new and exciting research projects with our Charter Associates will be materially enhanced, our end-users access to the internet will be accelerated, and IRON’s expansion into distance education services had been made possible, with many new services being provisioned and made available to our Associates and their end-users. IRON is a proven facilitator of advanced network capability and stability in our state and region. I look forward to continuing this tradition while working with the IRON team to bring more bandwidth to more Idaho communities.

Howard Grimes
Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Idaho State University
IRON President and CEO for 2014-2015

Joe Taylor appointed as Treasurer of IRON

IRON is pleased to announce the appointment of Joe Taylor as Treasurer of the Idaho Regional Optical Network. Joe is Chief Information Officer for BYU-Idaho where an expanding on-line program is providing opportunities to use technology as a vehicle for education across the world.

Joe began his professional career at the Thiokol Corporation, a leading developer of solid rocket propulsion systems including those used by NASA on the Space Shuttle. At Thiokol, he played a key role in the management and development of the Computer Integrated Enterprise Initiative, which required the use of multiple computing and data platforms to integrate the company’s design, manufacturing, safety and quality control functions into a seamless whole.

After Thiokol, Joe spent 20 years at the University of Utah as Executive Director of IT University Support Services. He was responsible for all planning, design, development, deployment, and maintenance of administrative information systems for the University. In addition he was responsible for data management, governance, and administration for the University campus, IT project and portfolio management, and vendor and contract management for University IT.

Joe became CIO at BYU-Idaho in January 2014 where he reports to the University President on all IT related issues at Idaho’s largest private university. BYU-Idaho offers 10 online bachelor’s degrees and 4 online associate degrees through a portfolio of over 100 online courses distributed around the world.

Joe Taylor has a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Economics from the University of Utah and an MBA and Master of Science degree in Management Information Systems from Boston University.

IRON continues partnership with the Idaho National Laboratory (INL)

Our standard of living is dependent on complex industrial control systems. Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has pioneered the development of “resilient” control systems that are more resistant to interruption from natural or man-made disasters. Complex control systems with enhanced resilience maintain safe levels of operations in response to natural disasters or man-made, malicious threats.

The challenge for the next generation of researchers is to address our need for robust and adaptable systems. IRON is partnering with INL, University of Idaho, Boise State University and Idaho State University to produce a distance learning course in resilient control systems. Other contributors and participants from around the region are engaged in this “first of” course held in the United States. Comprehensive perspectives on power system operation and the impacts of their failure from security compromise and human error are presented through a combination of lectures and interactive video sessions that include real world equipment and scenarios.

Promising research solutions will preface a mentored project for college students to propose their own unique resilience strategies.

NNU expands broadband access to students, faculty and staff

The Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON) and Northwest Nazarene University announce a partnership to expand the University’s broadband access and collaboration with Idaho Colleges and Universities, the Idaho Education Network (IEN), and Internet2.

Nampa, ID, February 5, 2014 – Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) recently completed expansion of its broadband communications infrastructure for enhanced broadband network services to better serve its students, faculty, and administrators, and increase its distance education service offerings throughout the state. Expanded access to IRON’s high-speed fiber optic network is contributing to this effort by providing NNU with access to IRON and the Internet at speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second. When NNU joined IRON this past fall, it joined the University of Idaho, Idaho State University, Boise State University, Brigham-Young University-Idaho, Washington State University, Lewis-Clark State College, North Idaho College, the Idaho Hospital Association, the state of Idaho, the Idaho Education Network (IEN), and the Idaho National Laboratory as active research and education partners and users of the broadband network services provided by IRON.

Northwest Nazarene University, a nonprofit Christian university, offers over 60 areas of study, master’s degree programs in eleven disciplines, accelerated degree programs, concurrent credit for high school students, and a variety of continuing education credits.

Sal Simili, Director of Information Technology for NNU, commented, “NNU has been very pleased with the connectivity quality and the service we receive through IRON. We look forward to the opportunities that the new connectivity will provide in reaching many of the under-served areas of Idaho, with the ability to present a live, in-class environment right to the local school, as well as the future collaboration opportunities with our peer universities.

Chartered in late 2007, IRON ( is a non-profit, cooperative effort between five universities located in the Northwest region of the United States, the State of Idaho, the Idaho Hospital Association, and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), to establish a high-performance Regional Optical Network (RON) within the State of Idaho. IRON is owned, operated and managed by its Charter Associates.

Today, only five years after its inception, IRON provides low-cost, high-speed bandwidth to more than 175,000 students, teachers, administrators, researchers, and health care professionals across the state of Idaho.

Organizations eligible to participate in IRON include those engaged in research, public and private education, health care, and economic development; as well as libraries, museums, and local, state, and federal government agencies. IRON, like 40 similar Regional Optical Network organizations operating in other states across the country, provides access and connectivity at speeds of up to 10 Gigabits per second, to the Internet and to both of the nation’s advanced research and education broadband networks, Internet2 (, and the National Lambda Rail (

Learn more here!

IRON announces office slate for 2014

The Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON) today named its slate of incoming officers for calendar 2014.

Boise, ID, January 20, 2014 – The Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON) is pleased to announce its 2014 slate of officers. IRON officers and board of directors are chosen from the organization’s Charter and General Associates which include representatives and members at large of the state’s education, health care, research, state and local government, and economic development organizations.

For 2014:

• President and Chief Executive Officer, Viji Murali, Vice President for Information Services and Chief Information Officer for Washington State University in Pullman, WA.
• Vice President, Howard Grimes, Vice President of Research and Economic Development for Idaho State University in Pocatello, ID.
• Treasurer, Daniel Ewart, Chief Information Officer for the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID.
• Secretary, Allen Schmoock, Chief Technology Officer and Director of Information Technology for Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, ID.
• Immediate Past President, Stacey Carson, Vice President of Operations for the Idaho Hospital Association in Boise, ID.

The board wishes to express their gratitude to the outgoing IRON officers including:

• Incumbent President and Chief Executive Officer Stacey Carson, Idaho Hospital Association
• Incumbent Vice President Viji Murali, Washington State University
• Incumbent Secretary, Max Davis-Johnson, Boise State University
• Incumbent Treasurer, Spalding Jugganaikloo, Brigham Young University-Idaho
• Incumbent Immediate Past President, Brent Stacey, Idaho National Laboratory

(Editor Note: IRON’s President and Vice President are elected by the IRON Board of Directors, and typically serve a one year term. IRON’s Secretary and Treasurer are appointed by the President/ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for indefinite terms and serve at the pleasure of the President and CEO.)

Stacey Carson, Vice President, Operations for Idaho Hospital Association

”IRON has connected more than 80 thousand students, researchers and healthcare professionals to a national and international community. IRON’s Associates are connected via a network that they own and operate for the betterment of their institutions, their communities and for everyone in the State of Idaho.

IRON’s officers and directors are committed to the continued long-term fulfillment and success of the IRON vision and we are in good hands with incoming President and CEO.”

Viji Murali, Vice President for Information Services and Chief Information Officer for Washington State University

“IRON is poised to take advantage of the many opportunities presented by the changing technologies through a solid vision developed by our associates for education, research and healthcare to become the entity of choice for cost-effective solutions for our organizations. Washington state university is a multicampus, research, land grant institution, and connections to local, national and international networks would not have been possible without IRON.”

Howard Grimes, Vice President of Research and Economic Development for Idaho State University

“Through partnerships with our sister institutions, healthcare providers, and Idaho National Laboratory (INL), IRON has advanced the availability and cost-effective access to the Internet, Internet2, National Lambda Rail, and other resources not previously available to ISU. IRON has enabled research, education, advancements in healthcare collaboration, and fostered collaboration effectively with other counterparts within Idaho, as well as nationally and internationally. Perhaps most importantly, by working in this collaborative manner we, and the state of Idaho, has acquired critical resources in an extremely cost-effective manner.”

Daniel Ewart, Chief Information Officer, University of Idaho

“Our partnership in IRON has done so much more than provide a robust, cost-effective connection to the Internet. It has allowed us to connect many of our locations together, enabling teaching, learning, research and communication. Our participation also allows us to further our mission as the land grant, outreach-focused higher education institution in the state while providing opportunities for collaboration with local, state and federal agencies across Idaho. We remain proud to be a charter member of IRON and looking forward to participating in IRON continued growth and success.”

Allen Schmoock, Chief Technology Officer and Director of Information Technology for Lewis-Clark State College

“Unlike a research institution, Lewis-Clark State College’s (LCSC) specialty is teaching and learning, and it places a premium on communication between students and instructors. In today’s higher education environment, instruction and communication often occur online. During the last semester of 2013, over two-thirds of LCSC’s students took at least one online course. The college depends on IRON’s bandwidth and dependability to serve local and world-wide online constituents. For five years IRON has carried LCSC’s online courses efficiently and reliably.”

Chartered in late 2007, “IRON” ( is a cooperative effort between five universities located in the Northwest region of the United States, the State of Idaho, the Idaho Hospital Association, and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), to establish a high-performance regional optical network within the State of Idaho. IRON is owned, operated and managed by these Charter and General Associates.

Today, five years after its inception, IRON provides low-cost, high-speed bandwidth to more than 175,000 students, teachers, administrators, researchers, and health care professionals across the state of Idaho.

Organizations eligible to participate in the Idaho Regional Optical Network, Inc. (IRON), a not-for-profit Idaho corporation, include those engaged in research, public and private education, health care, and economic development; as well as libraries, museums, and local, state, and federal government agencies. IRON, like 40 similar Regional Optical Network organizations operating in other states across the country, provides access and connectivity, at speeds of up to 10 gigabits, to the Internet, and to both of the nation’s advanced research and education broadband networks, Internet2 (, and the National Lambda Rail (

Learn more here!

President Carter to Share History of Alaskan National Parks

President Carter to Share History of Alaskan National Parks
Students Invited to Join Him for a Live Webchat on December 2

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter doubled the size of the National Park System when he signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). Students throughout the country can celebrate the anniversary of this landmark bill by joining President Carter on a live webchat on Monday, December 2 from 2-3 p.m. EST.

The theme for this special event, sponsored by Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, Georgia, is Celebrating President and Mrs. Carter and Their Contributions to the National Park Service. President Carter will speak on ANILCA then participate in a question-and-answer period.

An estimated 90,000 students will view the event thanks to an exciting new partnership between the National Park Service and Internet2, the U.S. national research and education network.

President Carter will answer questions via video from high school students from Plains High School (Plains, Ga.), Southwest High School (El Centro, Calif.), Sugar Salem High School (Sugar City, Idaho) and Woodrow Wilson Junior High (Dayton, Texas). Schools may view the event via a live web stream available at, provided by MAGPI, or at provided by Idaho Public Television.

ANILCA, often called the most significant land conservation measure in the history of our nation, protected more than 100 million acres of federal lands in Alaska. It doubled the size of the country’s national park and refuge system and tripled the amount of land designated as wilderness. ANILCA expanded the National Park System by more than 43 million acres, created 10 new national parks and increased the acreage of three existing parks.

The event is part of the Presidential Primary Sources Project, a collaborative program sponsored by the U.S. Presidential Libraries and Museums, the National Park Service, the Internet2 K20 Initiative, and other primary source stakeholders. For more information, visit or

The Idaho Education Network, Texas Education and Telecommunication Network (TETN), the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), and Internet2 support the participating schools and provide the video technology.

Learn more here!