The University of Utah is trying to add the adjective "super" to computer education.

David M. Grant, associate vice president for academic affairs, told the Institutional Council Monday that the U. is working on a proposal that could establish a supercomputer center at the university.His comments came during an update on the U.'s efforts to increase the computer literacy of students.

Grant said the National Science Foundation established six national supercomputing centers, and the U. now uses the supercomputer at the University of California at San Diego. A costly supercomputer completes complex computations at very high speed.

He said the U. is the largest user of the San Diego supercomputer outside of California. He estimated 120 U. researchers and graduate students use the California equipment.

The graduate students probably run up $600,000 to $800,000 worth of free supercomputer time annually. However, Grant said, in the future, the foundation will no longer subsidize supercomputer use and the U. will be charged for its time, which it couldn't afford.

In looking at establishing a super-computer center in Utah, the administrator said possible options are being discussed with computer companies IBM and Cray.

IBM has talked about helping set up a showcase facility at the U., staffing it with seven or eight of its own people and giving the U. a discount on the computer's purchase. Cost of the sophisticated computer is $22 million, Grant reported.

Several possibilities to cover the costs are being considered. The U. official said the establishment of a research consortium involving the U., Utah State University and Brigham Young University is being discussed, and the consortium would share in the use and costs of the equipment.

In addition, it might be possible to sell supercomputer time to local aerospace companies and high-tech firms that already spend $6 million to $7 million on supercomputing annually. All of that money flows out of state now, Grant said.

However, he added, the U. could probably capture only a portion of that money.

U. President Chase N. Peterson said the U.'s share for the supercomputer would run $2 million, which would come from non-tax funds.

Also in his report, Grant said the U. now has 600 microcomputers, including 160 in the Marriott Library, in student labs. It also has 20 computer work stations with plans to expand that to 1,000 within the next five years and several small mainframe computers in departments.

Both the Marriott Library and Eccles Medical Library are being automated, and the computer input of library records should be complete in 1989, he said.