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Clinton Names Rice Computer Scientist to National Advisory Committee

Source: Houston Business Journal, February 24, 1997
Laura Elizabeth Elder

On the information superhighway, Ken Kennedy is getting a presidential escort.

Kennedy, a professor of computer science at Rice University, has been hand-picked by President Bill Clinton to co-chair a new committee that will advise the federal government on crucial information technology issues.

The appointment of Kennedy and 20 other representatives from academia, industry and government will give committee members a lot of clout.

"I wouldn't say it gives me more power, but we (the committee) will have a lot of influence," says Kennedy.

The group -- officially known as the Advisory Committee on High Performance Computing and Communications, Information Technology and the Next Generation Internet -- will advise the White House through the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The brainy group will focus its attention on federal programs of research and investment in high-end computer technologies, Kennedy says, and on the future of computing and networking.

While it sounds like a lot of responsibility, the professor says he isn't worried about that.

"I have a great deal of confidence in my own abilities," he says. What does make him nervous, though, is the thought of testifying before Congress and getting his message across to its members.

Kennedy says the advisory committee will probably concentrate more on getting the government to pony up money for research grants and shy away from regulatory issues.

The new role is a dream job for Kennedy, who spends much of his time immersed in the world of high-level computing. He happens to also serve as Director of the Center for Research on Parallel Computation headquartered at Rice.

At the obscure-sounding center, Kennedy coordinates the efforts of seven participating institutions and six affiliated sites across the country. One of the center's projects is to encourage education and outreach efforts that prepare future generations for scientific problem solving and parallel computation.

The work, says Kennedy, will allow businesses to more accurately and quickly test and design new products and analyze information for petroleum exploration, environmental cleanup and health care management.