BY John Dunn
The Christopher W. Klaus Advanced Computing Building, named for a celebrated whiz kid who launched a billion dollar business as a college student, was dedicated Oct. 26.
Klaus contributed $15 million to build the facility that houses some of the most advanced computing labs and innovative educational technology in the world.
At age 22, Klaus put his degree on hold and founded Internet Security Systems, working out of a spare bedroom in his grandmother's home in 1994. Inspired by a science fiction novel, "Neuromancer," ISS became a multimillion business. In October, ISS was sold to IBM for $1.3 billion.
In 1999, Klaus made a $15 million pledge to construct the advanced computing building and made the largest contribution of his generation.
"I'm told Chris, when you made this gift you couldn't rent a car because you weren't 25," Georgia Tech President Wayne Clough quipped at the dedication ceremony.
"Today, from Blackberries to electronic toys, from high-performance computers to digital games, software and hardware are increasingly becoming one thing. The Klaus building will bring together Georgia Tech's great strengths in computer science and computer engineering, enhancing their abilities to establish Georgia Tech as a leader in this new world of electronic devices," Clough said.
Richard A. DeMillo, John P. Imlay Jr. dean of the College of Computing, said the building captures Klaus' spirit.
DeMillo said the building is "a reflection of Chris Klaus' vision — not only because of the technology. Chris is an entrepreneur, he's a collaborator. This building fosters collaboration and entrepreneurial enterprises."
Klaus acknowledged former computing dean Peter Freeman, who began the building project, and Tom Noonan, ME 83, ISS chairman, president and CEO.
"I can tell you a lot about this building and I can tell you a lot about cyber security and digital entertainment today," Klaus said. "But I can't tell you exactly what students will be studying here 10 years from now or even five years from now or even six months down the road. That's because while the mission of this school won't change, the challenges of the cyber world will."
Klaus was joined in the ribbon-cutting ceremony by Clough; DeMillo; Gary S. May, Steve W. Chaddick chair of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering; former Sen. Sam Nunn, Cls 60, co-chairman and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative; and James R. Lientz Jr., IM 65, chief operating officer for the state of Georgia.
The 412,000-square-foot, environmentally friendly facilities have more than 70 laboratories, eight computer class labs and a 200-seat auditorium.
"The special nature of this building — it's not only beautiful, but it reflects Georgia Tech's commitment to environmental sustainability in the development of our campus," Clough said. "Recycled materials were used in its construction and it employs energy-efficient systems. Rainwater that will be collected on its roof and its grounds will be used in irrigating the landscapes around it. All of the efforts in sustainability save $200,000 annually because of the reduced use of energy."
Nunn, who served on the ISS board, said, "When Chris Klaus logged into the virtual world, he did not check out of the real one. Chris understands that technology must supplement, it must not supplant our lives. Chris is not just a creator here on the Tech campus and in the world of business and technology, he's a leader by being a teacher and an example to many others."