The Vietnam War. The creation of supercomputing. These two seminal events may sound totally disconnected until you meet Jim Bottum, Chief Information Officer and Vice Provost for computing and information technology at Clemson. He was (and is) an active player in both.
To begin, let’s go back a little over four decades when Bottum served his country as an Air Force forward air controller in Vietnam. “My job,” he says, “was to fly light aircraft slowly and at high altitudes to provide constant air surveillance for U.S. fighter bombers.”
The most recent chapter of his story found him back in Vietnam but, this time, in the name of collaboration rather than conflict. He was there at the invitation of the International University in Ho Chi Minh City to advise education and government leaders on the steadily emerging country’s goal to implement and leverage the advantages of high-performance computing – an area of expertise for which he is world-renowned.
Between his two experiences in Vietnam lies the widely honored pioneering role that established his name at the forefront of supercomputing.
After the war, he earned a degree in government. Then, instead of the more traditional transition to law school, he landed a management internship at the National Science Foundation. That led to a 10-year career in program management, working on some of the first large-scale supercomputing facilities and on NSFnet, a precursor to commercial Internet. He went on to become the first CIO and VP for computing at Purdue and serve as executive director for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before arriving at Clemson where he established South Carolina’s first regional optical network (C-Light).
During his career – which has generated profiles in “Computerworld,” “Newsweek” and the “Chronicle of Higher Education” – he came to the fundamental realization that “technology and computing can raise all boats.”
That brings us full-circle and to his motivation for going back to Vietnam. “While it was surreal to return, I was quite impressed with the country’s desire – particularly as articulated by the Deputy Prime Minister who we traveled to Hanoi to meet – to improve its national stability and international status through expanded technology capabilities. They know, as I do, that supercomputing can expand research and grow an economy. It just feels right – and satisfying – to play a part in that effort.”
Jim Bottum is Clemson’s Chief Information Officer and Vice Provost for computing and information technology. During his seven years at Clemson he has overseen the University’s major investment to provide a powerful information technology infrastructure that supports the University’s role as a national leader in research, teaching and outreach. Bottum serves on the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure, the NSF Advisory Committee for CRPA Assessment, and the Internet2 Board of Trustees. He was named as Internet2’s Inaugural Presidential Fellow in 2012.
Number our campus ranks among United States public universities in supercomputing, according to TOP500.org for November 2012.Clemson by the numbers »