While serving on the Governor’s Technology and Innovation Council in 2001, telecommunications businessman, Dean Hughes noted that Kentucky was making significant investments in computers and network for K-12 schools. Understanding the potential for a large network of computers to work collectively, he approached fellow Princeton, Kentucky native, Brian Gupton. The two formulated a vision of how this computing asset could be leveraged for economic growth and development. Believing that local schools are our greatest economic development driver, Gupton wove education into the plan.
To add a business perspective, they engaged fellow entrepreneur, Henry Hunt, whom they knew through the state’s business incubator program. During a meeting at the Louisville Information Technology Research Center, the three met Dr. John Trent from the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center. Dr. Trent needed massive computing power to continue important drug discovery work. Trent was part of a research team that had been recruited to UofL with Kentucky’s “Bucks for Brains” investment and private matching funds.
Armed with a need, method and plan Gupton and Hunt set out to convince state policy makers and legislators to support a program that would increase economic opportunity for Kentucky students.
With Cabinet for Economic Development funds earmarked for development in coal
regions, Dataseam piloted a program placing computers directly into coal county classrooms that produced massive amounts of computing power for state researchers. The Kentucky General Assembly expanded the effort in 2006 and continues their financial commitment to this day.
In eight years, Dataseam has placed over 17,500 computers in Kentucky schools; engaged over 6,000 educators in training and professional certifications; awarded over $1.8 million in college scholarships; and worked with 167 participating schools and three universities to transform the use of technology in public schools. Fourteen research teams use the collective power of school computers (DataseamGrid) to discover over 30 potential drugs and create the largest pipeline of potential new cancer drugs in the country.