CI Campus Champions: Pairing Researchers and Educators with CI Resources
The NSF is making enormous investments in Track 2 and Track 1 supercomputers that can operate at up to tens of petaflops, and all integrated into the TeraGrid. However, there is a significant and growing “cyberinfrastructure gap” in the level of access to TeraGrid between EPSCoR and non-EPSCoR jurisdictions. In 2007, 89% of TeraGrid allocations of time went to non-EPSCoR states. CI Campus Champions address this challenge directly. The strategy behind CI Campus Champions is simple – pair researchers and educators with local and national cyberinfrastructure resources. The CI Campus Champions concept is an extension of the TeraGrid Campus Champion program, which has very strong community support, including a formal Memorandum of Understanding with TeraGrid. UAF has been participating in the TeraGrid Champions program since August, 2008. Getting a new allocation and a new research application running on TeraGrid is a labor intensive process that may take several weeks or more. At UAF four new researchers have obtained TeraGrid allocations in the past few months, in part through the UAF TeraGrid Champion program. Two large applications are targeted for the January, 2009, application deadline. Larger institutions in the CI-TRAIN partnership are in the process of joining the TeraGrid Champions program formally. Smaller institutions with fewer researchers may leverage the activities of the larger campuses, or may join the TeraGrid Champions program. A strong letter of support from Scott Lathrop, Director of TeraGrid Education, Outreach, and Training, is included in the supplemental documents. It is through his office that the TeraGrid Champions program was launched. CI-TRAIN works closely with the TeraGrid and supercomputing (SC) education communities in the CI-TRAIN project, including sending CI Campus Champions and other faculty to summer and November SC Education workshops, submitting our developed training materials to the Computational Science Education Reference Desk repository, and participating actively in the newly launched HPC University virtual community. TeraGrid has committed to providing at least one workshop each year at one of the CI-TRAIN partner sites – a very strong commitment. Complementary to NSF TeraGrid funding is a view of campus-level “Track 3” resources, including clusters in the 1000-core range, visualization, data storage and collections, and instruments for data collection. Campus resources cannot and should not attempt to compete with TeraGrid at scale. Rather, campus resources can enable nationally competitive research by providing local systems for development and “small” runs, advanced user support for both local and campus resources, and mechanisms that leverage both campus and national resources, effectively a ladder with multiple rungs and a support system that facilitates the transition from one level to the other.
The CI Campus Champions strategy is to assist researchers on “small” problems and activities on local resources, and to leverage economy of scale on large or remote resources where appropriate. CI Campus Champions will become a part of the institution’s permanent investment in cyberinfrastructure. The CI Campus Champions will form a support community, leveraging each others' skills and knowledge. CI Campus Champions will become broadly familiar with the range of local and national computational, visualization, and scientific resources that are available. Each CI Campus Champion will become an expert in the use of at least one local and at least one national computation, visualization, or scientific resource. Examples include: the use of various computational and visualization resources; TeraGrid Science Gateways; Open Science Grid; SURAGrid; Condor; and others. In this project there are two types of CI Campus Champions, both of which have a passion to engage colleagues:
• Faculty Campus Champions typically hold positions as tenured or tenure track faculty.
• IT Campus Champions typically hold IT staff positions, such as system administrators.
The two roles address different aspects of cyberinfrastructure adoption. The Faculty Champion position serves as a vehicle to connect to faculty researchers, motivating them to expand the use of highperformance computing and advanced visualization in their research. They will first catalyze their own research capability through the use of advanced cyberinfrastructure. One goal is to create “Hero Users” that will drive demand on and from the campus. They will be advocates and sources of information through training sessions, to their students and postdocs, and between campus researchers and CI resources. Faculty Campus Champions will become familiar with NSF research and equipment grants in their area of expertise, and will lead in proposals utilizing cyberinfrastructure during the project period. In our experience, even a handful of active faculty, engaged in the use of advanced cyberinfrastructure, will, over time, push the institutions toward higher levels of cyberinfrastructure capability.
IT Campus Champions will provide expertise on the operational and technical aspects of using HPC resources. IT Campus Champions will commit to attending monthly CI Training Days events, and will coordinate, advertise, and recruit additional participants from their campus to the event as appropriate. IT Campus Champions assist users to quickly get start-up allocations of computing time on TeraGrid systems, to login and use the systems, to port codes to the systems, and to move data. They will also work closely with the partnership’s visualization staff to train local faculty and students on the use of the visualization tool kit. They will serve as a campus point of contact for the scheduling and management of the shared partnership resources. They will participate with faculty in proposal development, assisting in the planning, specification, and design of new cyberinfrastructure resources. Each CI Campus Champion will prepare or adapt, in collaboration with project partners, module materials that can be delivered in seminar and/or course form to staff, faculty, and/or students on their own campus, as a part of a course, at regional events, and/or at CI Training Days sessions. Each CI Campus Champion will deliver at least two training sessions or course modules during the year. Module materials will be made available on the project web site and may be contributed to community collections. Each funded Campus Champion will commit to attending two project meetings during the year, including a fall meeting and a Project Review meeting in the late spring or summer. The Project Director will serve as "Champion of Champions" to coordinate activities for champions across the campuses. With the assistance of the partnership, a CI Campus Champion can shepherd one or more CI Days events on his or her campus during the project period.