XSEDE Science Successes

Campus Champions Region 1 Meet in Idaho

Region 1 Champions Meet at Idaho National Laboratory

Members of the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) Regional Champion program recently met at Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho, for a Campus Champion event. Xsede's Campus Champion program supports campus representatives as a local source of knowledge about high-performance and high-throughput computing and other digital services, opportunities and resources.

Ben Nickell, INL HPC system administrator and Region 1 champion, served as the event's organizer and host. Despite significant geographic distances between member institutions in the West, 13 of 15 champion institutions were represented, further validating the interest in the program as a whole.

On day one, the group was treated to some of the more unique facilities at INL including the Experimental Breeder Reactor Museum (EBR-I), the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) and the Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC) where the group received a short talk by Dr. Kelly Lively. She was part of the team that assembled and tested the radioisotope thermoelectric generator for both the Mars Rover and the Pluto New Horizons mission.

For day two, the agenda included keynote speakers and group discussions. In addition to presentations by select champions, INL staff members presented on HPC system tools (Cormac Garvey – LMOD and EasyBuild), scientific applications (Tami Grimmett – MOOSE multiphysics framework) and some very interesting Big Data projects (Wayne Simpson). The group was also treated to a tour of INL's Scientific Visualization Center (Eric Whiting) and experienced 3-D interactive viewing at its finest!

A number of attendees commented on the experience:

"One of the benefits that I commonly get from meetings such as this is a sense that I'm not alone in some of the things I face, whether or not we're able to resolve anything. As a fellow CC put it - group therapy! I also enjoyed the trek around INL – it's broadening to see what sorts of research/challenges/etc. other institutions are into."

--Tim Brewer, University of Wyoming

"I particularly liked listening to Kelly Lively of INL talk about her experience as lead engineer of the ‘space battery' on the Pluto New Horizons mission. It was fascinating. These kinds of events and shared experiences bond fellow CCs and reduce the barriers to future interaction. The meeting was a great success!"

--Julia Harrison, University of Utah

"It was a great meeting -- great tours, lots of time for conversation, interesting talks and discussions, contacts for future work or just to bounce ideas off of people, which I'm doing already. The ability to get together face-to-face and talk about various topics allows us to get acquainted and to follow up later and have a reasonable expectation that the follow-up will be successful. This is not necessarily true if the groundwork of the initial discussions and conversations had not been done. Because of this, future collaborative activities are possible, or at least easier to discuss and think about."

--Steve Wolbers, Oregon State University


Whiting, INL's director of Scientific Computing, echoed the sentiments provided by other attendees. "Programs like this make HPC more readily available – and that's what we need – more collaboration with academia, industry, government – everyone. It also helps with future workforce development. We want to do everything we can to encourage students and researchers to gain important computational science skills."

Regional Champion events are designed to strengthen collaboration and understanding of research in the individual geographic regions, as well as improve the scalability of the Champion Program. As the Champion Program has grown to over 250 members, it was necessary to refine the way interaction was handled between the Champions staff and the Champions community. The Regional Champions project was a direct result of this desire to continue to serve the community in the most effective manner possible.