XSEDE Project

Shodor Announces XSEDE Project

A partnership of 17 institutions, including Shodor, a Durham-based computational science education nonprofit, has committed to developing the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE). XSEDE will be the most advanced, powerful, and robust collection of integrated advanced digital resources and services in the world.

Scientists and engineers use these resources and services-things like supercomputers, collections of data, and new tools-to propel scientific discovery and improve our lives. They are a crucial part of research in fields like earthquake engineering, materials science, medicine, epidemiology, genomics, astronomy, and biology.

"Enabling scientific discovery though enhanced researcher productivity is our goal, and XSEDE's ultimate reason for being," explained Barry Schneider, a program director in the Office of Cyberinfrastructure at the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF will fund the XSEDE project for five years, at $121 million.

"For this sort of cyberscience to be truly effective and provide unique insights, it requires a cyberinfrastructure of local computing hardware at sites around the country, advanced supercomputers at larger centers, generally available software packages, and fast networks. Ideally, they should all work together so the researcher can move from local to national resources transparently and easily."

XSEDE will replace and expand the TeraGrid project that started more than a decade ago. More than 10,000 scientists used the TeraGrid to complete thousands of research projects, at no cost to the scientists.

Shodor staff and student interns will be working to bring its computational science education projects to XSEDE, to help develop new curricular resources, to train faculty to approach computational thinking from a parallel perspective, and to build an outreach program capable of attracting more young people into the field by continuing its efforts in workshops, apprenticeships, and internships.

"The TeraGrid really helped invent the concept of having digital resources like supercomputers, tools, and expertise spread across the country and allowing researchers to easily use them," said John Towns of the University of Illinois's National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Towns will lead the XSEDE project and also had a variety of roles in the TeraGrid project.

Shodor's role in Teragrid started with providing digital library expertise for disseminating the best training materials through a new web resource, hpcuniversity.org

"This is much more than just the same old resources that TeraGrid offered," Towns said. "XSEDE will take the next step by lowering technological barriers to access and use. We are creating a distributed cyberinfrastructure in which researchers can establish private, secure environments that have all the resources, services, and collaboration support they need to be productive."

"Once again, Shodor has a great chance to partner with some of the nation's leading institutions to improve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education at all levels. We will leverage our National Computational Science Institute (NCSI) for faculty and teacher training; our National Science Digital Library (NSDL) pathway, the Computational Science Education Reference Desk (CSERD), for materials development and dissemination; and our Computing MATTERS efforts reaching students in the Triangle area and across North Carolina," said Dr. Robert Panoff, Executive Director of Shodor.

As the only institution in North Carolina selected as a full partner in XSEDE, Shodor will leverage its more than $1M share of the project to bring NC K-12 schools, NC community colleges, the whole UNC system, and other organizations into the project with new opportunities for collaboration.

"Through the XSEDE project Shodor will be doing important work with educators across the country to incorporate computational science and engineering into undergraduate and graduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses across the nation," said Scott Lathrop, the new director of Education and Outreach Services for XSEDE. "This effort will include preparing tomorrow's K-12 teachers to make computational thinking an integral component in their courses. As a result of Shodor's efforts, the nation's workforce will be better prepared to advance scientific discovery and scholarly research."

Initially, XSEDE will support 16 supercomputers across the country. It also includes other specialized digital resources and services to complement these computers. These resources will be expanded throughout the lifetime of the project.

The XSEDE partnership includes: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Carnegie Mellon University/University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas at Austin, University of Tennessee Knoxville, University of Virginia, Shodor Education Foundation, Southeastern Universities Research Association, University of Chicago, University of California San Diego, Indiana University, Jülich Supercomputing Centre, Purdue University, Cornell University, Ohio State University, University of California Berkeley, Rice University, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. It is led by the University of Illinois's National Center for Supercomputing Applications.