Leveling the Cyberinfrastructure Playing Field: MS-CC Presentation at 2022 National HBCU Week Conference

Participants pose for a recent conference.

By Teni Agbesanwa – MS-CC Program Coordinator

On Sept. 22, 2022, at 11:30 a.m. ET, MS-CC Director Lawrence Williams will deliver a presentation focused on supporting historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) through the advancement of campus technology, community building, funding support, and professional development opportunities. The presentation is part of the 2022 National HBCU Week Conference being organized under the leadership of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The MS-CC, or Minority Serving – Cyberinfrastructure Consortium, is supported by nearly $3 million Cyberinfrastructure Center of Excellence (CoE) Pilot program grant from the National Science Foundation (award # 2137123) to provide researchers, professional staff, and students from HBCUs and tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) with programs and services that address their cyberinfrastructure needs.

ms-cc in partnership with internet2


The term cyberinfrastructure refers to the various technology tools and resources that an institution has access to, and that allow it to support and enable many of the day-to-day activities that happen on a college campus.

“Whether students are logging into a learning management system to take an online quiz, connecting to campus Wi-Fi on their walk from the library to the lecture hall, or streaming movies in their campus dorm rooms – access to a secure, fast, and reliable internet connection is one critical component of cyberinfrastructure, and the effectiveness of this infrastructure has a significant impact on their college experience,” explains Williams. 

For HBCUs looking to support their research mission, compete for federal research funding, and attract and retain research faculty, a more complex form of cyberinfrastructure is required. It includes workflows for managing research data and the storage systems used to move this data from one department to another, across campuses all over the country, and often, across institutions all over the world. 

“A group of graduate students working in South Carolina on a research project might need to collaborate with their peers in Florida, Hawaii, South Africa, and beyond,” added Williams. “Moving research data requires campus IT teams to manage, store, and share this data using a variety of tools, such as high-performance computing systems, cloud computing, or a combination of both.”

MS-CC: Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Enabled Through Community-Building 

The MS-CC was created specifically to grow the pool of diverse science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, researchers by increasing access to cyberinfrastructure resources, enhancing collaboration among researchers and cyberinfrastructure professionals, and fostering professional and career development for students, faculty and staff from minority-serving campuses. 

With support from the NSF award, a key driver for the MS-CC this past year has been developing and running a series of cyberinfrastructure and ransomware security workshops on the campuses of HBCUs and TCUs, including North Carolina A&T University and Salish Kootenai College. 

Since the NSF award was announced in September 2021, MS-CC participation has more than doubled from 35 to 88 institutions as of August 2022. Membership in the MS-CC helps create a vibrant community of practice where peers can collaborate and support one another, and build a coalition to advocate for their needs as a community.  

We invite you to learn more about the MS-CC, get involved, and join us virtually on the last Thursday of each month at noon ET for our monthly MS-CC All Hands meeting.

About the MS-CC

MS-CC envisions a transformational partnership to promote advanced cyberinfrastructure (CI) capabilities on HBCU, HSI, TCU, and MSI campuses, with data; research computing; teaching; curriculum development and implementation; collaboration; and capacity-building connections among institutions. The consortium emerged from a National Science Foundation-funded pilot project that was awarded through Clemson University: NSF OAC #1659297 “CC* Cyber Team: Cyberinfrastructure Empowerment for Diverse Research, Scholarship, and Workforce Development (CI Empower).” 

In September 2021, the MS-CC and Internet2 were awarded nearly $3 million by the National Science Foundation over two years to fund a Cyberinfrastructure Center of Excellence Pilot to advance the research cyberinfrastructure capabilities and support systems for HBCUs and TCUs (NSF Award # 2137123). While the initial focus of this grant is to advance cyberinfrastructure on campuses with definite needs through a partnership model, possibilities exist for additional opportunities to further expand the collaborations and support among other MSIs. For more information, visit

About Annual National HBCU Week Conference

The Annual National HBCU Week Conference is the nation’s premier convening of institution executive leaders, faculty, students, and supporters. It is implemented under the leadership of the Initiative, in close consultation with the Executive Office of the President and U.S. Department of Education. The event provides a unique occasion for federal agencies, private sector companies and philanthropic organizations to participate and provide useful information and successful models to improve instruction, degree completion and federal engagement, all of which strengthens the role of HBCUs. For more information, visit 2022 National HBCU Week.