Open Science Grid launches effort to build new cyber communities

CHAPEL HILL, NC, April 15, 2008—The Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), an Open Science Grid partner, will lead an effort to involve more university research teams and more campuses in using cyberinfrastructure (CI) as a tool for research and discovery.

The National Science Foundation awarded RENCI $995,796 over three years to assist research communities and campuses in using the distributed resources of the Open Science Grid (OSG). The award, effective April 1, calls for using an embedded immersive engagement (EIE) effort to immerse teams of researchers in the concepts and technologies needed to become skilled users of OSG resources, a nationwide collection of large-scale computing systems and analytic tools made accessible through standardized procedures for managing and processing jobs.

OSG is a consortium of universities, national laboratories, scientific collaborations and software developers dedicated to meeting the ever-growing computing and data management requirements of scientific researchers. Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Science Foundation, it provides access to its members’ independently owned and managed resources through a common grid infrastructure that uses high performance networks to connect computing systems scattered across the country.

“This award will help many more researchers become regular users of CI, and for them, that means the ability to use powerful resource at sites across the country to do the kind of research that can lead to breakthrough discoveries,” said John McGee, engagement coordinator for the OSG and manager of CI development at RENCI.  “By using national-scale, shared CI, scientists and educators also have more opportunities to be involved in national, multidisciplinary projects.”

RENCI’s partner in OSG engagement activities is Clemson University. Sebastien Goasguen of the Clemson Computing and Information Technology group will lead the Clemson engagement team and work closely with McGee’s RENCI team.

The EIE concept embeds a team of CI experts into a research team or IT group at a university, laboratory or similar research organization. This CI team works closely with the researchers, teaching them about CI concepts, tools and methods for using distributed resources. After a period of hands-on mentoring, the research team has the knowledge, experience, and tools to become regular OSG users.

“We look forward to continuing to work closely with John, Sebastien and their colleagues to help research communities across the nation become fully proficient participants in, and users of, the shared capabilities we call cyberinfrastructure,” said Ruth Pordes, OSG executive director and an associate head of the computing division at Fermilab.

The OSG engagement plan calls for assisting at least six new research teams in becoming accomplished users of OSG resources and helping at least six university campuses develop production-quality, shared distributed infrastructure.  The engagement team also will work to make CI more accessible and easy to use and to develop best practices for CI experts who embed themselves into research teams.

RENCI…Catalyst for Innovation
The Renaissance Computing Institute brings together teams of talented researchers, engineers, technologists and leaders in government, business, the arts and humanities to attack major research questions and community issues in ways that accelerate discovery and drive innovation. RENCI has nationally significant expertise and capabilities in high performance computing, visualization, collaborative tools, networking, device prototyping, and data systems as well as engagement sites across the state. Founded in 2004 as a major collaborative venture of Duke University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the state of North Carolina, RENCI is a statewide virtual organization.  For more, see