Wheeling officials on Monday announced an initiative partnering with Hewlett-Packard and Intel to bring supercomputing and manufacturing innovation to the village.
The program has been in the works for about a year, said Peter Vadopalas, director of economic development for Wheeling. He said the Intel-HP Wheeling Innovation Initiative will help raise the village's profile as a technological leader in the region, state and around the world.
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Debra Goldfarb, high performance computing strategy director for Intel, said the partnership will work with the high-tech programs already in place at science- and technology-focused Wheeling High School, Harper College and the 450 manufacturing companies in and around Wheeling.
"As we've seen over the past several decades, the U.S. has lost a significant footprint in manufacturing," Goldfarb said.
"We hit the recession and things got worse. For companies like us, this program is a very big deal."
Goals of the program include driving job creation, enhancing skills in the workforce, attracting new industries and talent, and inspiring other innovation centers around the country.
She said the three key pillars of the initiative will be community outreach, student competition and local industry enablement.
Outreach will include roundtables, workshops, training, case studies and market research.
Student competition will be done through identifying real-world industry problems, enlisting students to define the best way to solve those problems and build teams to collaborate on creating those solutions.
Nineteen students from Wheeling High School participated in a Supercomputing Challenge in February with HP, Intel, ANSYS Inc. and Wheeling-based Angiotech Pharmaceuticals as a part of the pilot program for what will be rolled out in the coming years.
As part of the project, students met with Angiotech engineers and used high-performance computing to design simulated solutions to real-world problems.
Goldfarb said Wheeling was selected in part because it has a very low industrial vacancy rate, with only 6.58 percent of the more than 13 million square feet of industrial space in Wheeling still available.
Other northwest suburban towns such as Mount Prospect, Schaumburg and Elk Grove Village all have more than 10 percent of their industrial space vacant as of the second quarter of 2012, she said.