Broadening Participation in Blue Waters

Guest post by Scott Lathrop, Blue Waters Project, NCSA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Shodor Education Foundation, Inc.

In 2013, NSF commissioned the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to examine the priorities and associated trade-offs for advanced computing in support of NSF-sponsored science and engineering research. The committee’s report made recommendations to establish a framework for positioning the United States for continued leadership in science and engineering, and preparing the workforce to maintain this leadership.

To keep pace with the rapid adoption of HPC, there is an exigent need for a larger and more diverse U.S. workforce with computational and data-enabled skills. To maintain U.S. global leadership, achieve breakthroughs, and transform computational and data-empowered resources well into the future, it is mandatory that we accelerate national scale preparation of HPC-capable US workforce.

The Blue Waters project at NCSA is committed to these goals of advancing discovery through the use of computation and data analytics in all disciplines. The project is committed to actively engaging a diverse community of researchers, developers, educators and students.

Engaging a diverse community includes encouraging requests for allocations for research, education, and scholarship in all disciplines; encouraging participation by women, minorities, veterans and people with disabilities; and welcoming of projects from a broad cross-section of institutions including Minority Serving Institutions and institutions in EPSCoR jurisdictions.

The project offers a regular series of webinars to introduce people to a variety of HPC and petascale related topics including scientific visualization, scientific workflows, petascale programming, software engineering, and workforce development and inclusion. The webinars are freely accessible via YouTube. We welcome suggestions for topics to be offered, as well as offers from the community to present.

We were pleased to have Toni Collis be the first speaker in the workforce development and inclusion track with her presentation on “Opportunities and Challenges: Diversifying your Workforce” for which the recording of her presentation is posted on Youtube.

The Blue Waters project recently announced a call for applications for Broadening Participation Allocations, with an application deadline of March 15, 2018. A Blue Waters Overview webinar is available to provide information on the resources and services that are offered.

The Blue Waters resources and services are freely available to people at US academic institutions. There are also resources available that can benefit industrial research and development.

For further information about Blue Waters please visit: or send email.

About the author: Scott Lathrop

    • Scott Lathrop is the Blue Waters Technical Program Manager for Education, Outreach and Training. Lathrop has been involved in high performance computing and communications activities since 1986. Lathrop coordinates the community engagement activities for the Blue Waters project. He helps ensure that Blue Waters education, outreach and training activities are meeting the needs of the community.  Lathrop served as the EOT director for TeraGrid, and served as the Director of Education and Training for XSEDE from 2011-2016.  Lathrop has been involved in the SC Conference series since 1989, served as a member of the SC Steering Committee for six years.  He served as the Conference Chair for the SC’11 and XSEDE14 Conferences.  He helped form the International HPC Training Consortium, is an ex-officio officer in the ACM SIGHPC Education Chapter, and has been active in the planning and participation in HPC Training Workshops at the SC and ISC Conferences.
  • About NCSA

    The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides supercomputing and advanced digital resources for the nation’s science enterprise. At NCSA, University of Illinois faculty, staff, students, and collaborators from around the globe use advanced digital resources to address research grand challenges for the benefit of science and society. NCSA has been advancing one third of the Fortune 50 for more than 30 years by bringing industry, researchers, and students together to solve grand challenges at rapid speed and scale.

    About Blue Waters

    Blue Waters is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. Located at the University of Illinois, it can complete more than 1 quadrillion calculations per second on a sustained basis and more than 13 times that at peak speed. The peak speed is almost 3 million times faster than the average laptop.  Blue Waters is supported by the National Science Foundation and the University of Illinois; the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) manages the Blue Waters project and provides expertise to help scientists and engineers take full advantage of the system for their research.