MRCC IT Academy and E-Sports program to deploy technology in COVID-19 battle

Publish Date: 04/23/2020

The Marion Regional Career Center’s Information Technology and Cyber Security Academy, along with Marion Community School’s state-of-the-art E-Sports Program, have set out to make a difference in the fight against COVID-19. 

During the district’s temporary closure, its E-Sports computer systems will be linked to become a supercomputer that will partner with Folding@home (www.foldingathome.org) to run complex medical calculations requiring significant computing power. These technology systems will specifically be used to help understand how the proteins in viruses suppress our immune systems and reproduce themselves. By learning how these proteins work, medical professionals can then design therapeutics to stop them.

Linking Marion’s E-Sports computers to Folding@home allows computer simulations to search for COVID-19 treatments by repurposing existing drugs that target viruses. These simulations of protein dynamics involve what is known as protein folding and gives “citizen scientists” the opportunity to run simulations of protein dynamics on their personal computers. According to Folding@home’s website, information about potential drug treatments is sent to E-Sports computers. The Marion computers then analyze the data using Folding@home technologies and return the analyzed results to Folding@home computers for further processing.

“I am excited that our IT Academy and the Afena Federal Credit Union E-Sports Arena can contribute to the research on this ongoing pandemic,” said Travis Hueston, MRCC instructor and E-Sports Head Coach. “Our practices and competitions have been moved to a remote platform, and this allows our advanced technology resources in the arena to be used to find possible treatments and even vaccines. It is important to note that all these systems are set up remotely and no one physically will be in the arena when these processes are occurring. This is just another way in which our award-winning programs can bridge the gap and provide assistance to our students, families, community, and country in a time of need.”