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Lenovo, CALS IT Spark New Collaborations on AI and Machine Learning 

Six people standing near a staircase.
Note: This story was originally published by College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Information Technology.

CALS IT and the N.C. Plant Sciences Initiative’s Makerspace are collaborating with Lenovo to advance improvements in sensor data collection and artificial intelligence innovations.

Lenovo, headquartered in RTP, is a global leader in laptops, workstations, servers, data storage, and supercomputers.

Jevon Smith, CALS Research Computing Manager, notes, “As we explore new and unique ways to enhance the agronomic success of our stakeholders, partnering with industry leaders like Lenovo serves as a force multiplier. Their profound expertise greatly enhances our capabilities.”

Lenovo Global Vice President for AI and HPC, Scott Tease, and Chief Data Scientist, David Ellison, recently visited the Plant Science Building to discuss impactful “AI for good” collaborative opportunities. This partnership goes far beyond merely acquiring hardware.

David’s team of data scientists can give us additional support as it relates to our strategic investments in bioinformatics, phenotyping, large language model processing, and more. We can evaluate whether moving workloads to the cloud or running them on premises makes sense. 

According to Smith, Lenovo also offers us the chance to test our sample workloads in their RTP data center through their AI Innovators Program, enabling “right-size testing” and engineering before making any commitments.

The PSI’s Makerspace also benefits from this partnership by incorporating early sensor development into a framework of technologies. Developing and testing sensors using edge computing is crucial.

Equally important is incorporating storage and long-range radio communication technology, such as LoRa, to complete the data acquisition process effectively. Establishing a predictable, reproducible, and tested data ingress and egress ecosystem is essential for providing a turnkey full-stack solution. For instance, when developing new sensor technology for measuring greenhouse gas emissions, we can now offer a complete solution or best practice recommendation for the entire connectivity chain.

Many farms lack high bandwidth and low latency capabilities for massive sensor aggregation, which is where Lenovo’s edge computing systems come in to enhance WAN link optimization.

The CALS IT Research Computing Group, and Andrea Monteza Arauz, PSI’s Makerspace Director, were given an exclusive access tour of Lenovo’s AI Center of Excellence (COE) at their RTP campus. They received hands-on demonstrations of Lenovo’s latest AI hardware and software offerings.

“This is just the beginning,” says Jevon Smith. “This collaboration also highlights the strong internal relationships within our college. Much of this success is thanks to the CALS Advancement team, Erin Meyer and Dinah Schuster, demonstrating the power of teamwork.”

As we continue to develop and define the NC Ag Analytics Platform, we will expand this and similar partnerships to position our college at the forefront of agricultural research excellence.