Next fall, Wesleyan students and faculty will perform research activities on the same state-of-the-art animation computers that produced Ice Age the Meltdown, a $652 million worldwide box office hit.

The computer hardware was donated July 2 by Greenwich, Conn.-based Blue Sky Studios, the creator of a number of award-winning digital animation features, including the Ice Age series and Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who, which took in nearly $300 million worldwide.

In 2008, Blue Sky Studios refreshed their technology for their latest movie, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, and bought racks of new computers.

“The old computer racks still had a lot of life left in them, so we went looking for large colleges and universities in Connecticut that might be able to make use of this kind of computing infrastructure, and to which we might donate these computers,” explains Andrew Siegel, head of systems at Blue Sky Studios. “Wesleyan seemed like a good candidate.”

Blue Sky arranged for the racks to be delivered to the Exley Science Center loading dock. They are now housed on the fifth floor of Information Technology Services.

“We requested two, but they graciously gave us four,” Ganesan “Ravi” Ravishanker, associate vice president for Information Technology Services.

Each rack holds 52 Angstrom Microsystem-brand “blades,” with a memory footprint of 12 or 24 gigabytes each. Combined, Blue Sky donated about 3.7 terabytes of total memory.

“This is just phenomenal,” says Henk Meij, senior consultant and manager of Unix Systems Group. “Once it’s in full operation, it’s going to be much appreciated by the researchers. They’re definitely going to notice a difference in how fast research can be done.”