NCSSM awarded access to high-performance supercomputer

NCSSM Online students accessed the powerful Bridges supercomputer for the first time in early October 2016 as part of the 30,000 hours granted to NCSSM.

The National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) program, through partner institution Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, approved a proposal from NCSSM to allocate 30,000 core-hours of supercomputing time on the Bridges Regular Memory supercomputer in Pittsburgh. The machine, funded with a $9.65M NSF grant, contains a large number of research-grade software packages for science and engineering, including codes for computational chemistry, computational biology, and computational physics, along with specialty codes such as computational fluid dynamics.

NCSSM’s allocation is designed to support computational science programs in the residential and online programs. Supercomputing access will particularly benefit computational chemistry students, who will use Gaussian 09 to learn how to work and conduct research in a high performance computing environment. Students in the various research programs, including the R science courses and Mentorship, could conduct computational experiments using the Bridges resource. 

Jon Bennett, instructor of physics and faculty mentor for physics reserch, noted in the school’s proposal that “NCSSM research students often pursue interdisciplinary research projects that involve computational and/or laboratory work in chemistry, physics, and other fields. The availability of supercomputer computational resources would greatly expand the range and depth of projects that are possible for these students.”

Bob Gotwals, instructor of chemistry and faculty mentor for computational science research, will serve as the principal investigator for the allocation and will be responsible for student training and support, allocations to users, and administration of the program. 

Elena  Jakubikova, associate professor of chemistry at North Carolina State University, will serve as the co-principal investigator. “NCSSM’s program is nationally unique in exposing high school students to highly relevant topics in the computational sciences, especially computational chemistry,” says Jakubikova. “In the past six years, I have mentored two alumni of this program in my research laboratory at NCSU. The computational chemistry class they have taken at NCSSM has motivated them to seek out research opportunities in their freshman year at NCSU and helped them to quickly become productive members of an academic research lab. It is my hope that this XSEDE allocation will allow the current students at NCSSM to gain experience with a world-class resource for computational research and enable them to tackle larger-scale projects, thus inspiring and training the next generation of computational scientists.”

Ken Hackworth, allocations manager for XSEDE, says the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center welcomes the opportunity to assist in the research and education of “young scholars who aspire to become our future scientists.” 

The allocations will provide support through the 2016-2017 school year.  If successful, NCSSM will be eligible to apply for a re-allocation for continuing school years.   

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