Cornell Theory Center, Department of Defense MSRCs Introduce Virtual Workshop

ITHACA, N.Y. (Sep 18, 1997) — 

The Cornell Theory Center (CTC) and the Department of Defense's Major Shared Resource Centers (MSRCs) have announced the launching of a Virtual Workshop to provide DoD-sponsored scientists and engineers with self-paced, on-line training in parallel computing.

 CTC developed the Virtual Workshops in 1995 to increase researchers' access to training in introductory and advanced parallel computing topics. A modular design allows the Virtual Workshops to be topic specific or broad overview. Features of the Virtual Workshops include a self-referencing glossary, interactive quizzes, discussion forums, interaction with CTC consultants, and lab exercises. A recently developed feature allows participants to edit, compile, and submit a program through the Web- eliminating the need to log onto the SP directly.

 This is the result of a collaborative effort between the Northeast Parallel Architecture Center, who developed the proof of concept, and CTC, who brought it into the production environment providing secure authentication. Each module concludes with an evaluation form and an additional evaluation is requested when a participant completes the workshop. (See for additional information about the Virtual Workshops.)

 "A DoD research community trained in parallel computing is critical to this goal," said Charlie Bender, Director of the Ohio Supercomputer Center and Academic Director of the ASC PET Program. " CTC's expertise in parallel computing and its experience in conducting the Virtual Workshops is allowing the PET program to train that community much more quickly."

 The workshop is being offered as a pilot program to deliver training to the remote users of all four MSRCs-Aeronautical Systems Center, Army Research Laboratory, Naval Oceanographic Office, and the Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station-and grew out of a DoD program-wide workshop held in San Diego last June.

 The Department of Defense High Performance Computing Program is working to provide its scientists and engineers with the high performance computing and communications capabilities crucial to maintaining and extending the US technological advantage in warfighting systems. The four MSRCs are the cornerstone of the Modernization program, which is enabling DoD laboratories and test centers to have high performance computing capabilities comparable to that found in other federal agencies or research institutions. Each MSRC is operating high-end computing systems and providing extensive capabilities to address user requirements for hardware, software, visualization, programming environments, and training.

 The Programming Environment and Training (PET) teams are a group of scientists and engineers from universities who assist the DoD user community through training, collaboration, tool development, technology tracking, and user outreach. Through PET, users are able to use computing resources to the fullest capacity and apply this knowledge to DoD research and technical problems.

 "This workshop is one example of the excellent collaboration the PET teams have created between higher education and the Department of Defense," Bender said. "Cornell is among the many institutions that are providing high performance training for defense scientists and engineers."

 One hundred researchers have signed up for the workshop, which began on September 15. The course is intended to serve as an introduction to several aspects of parallel programming on the IBM SP. Four topics, each consisting of two to four modules, are being offered: Parallel Programming; Message Passing Interface (MPI); High Performance Fortran (HPF); and Performance.

 Successful evaluation will guide the PET program for using Web-based training technologies, providing the DoD user community with training on demand at their desktop via software libraries (repositories) and Virtual Workshops.

 "We will be asking DoD participants to evaluate the Virtual Workshop so that we can work with the MSRCs to adapt the VW to their future needs," said Linda Callahan, CTC Director of External Relations, Education and Outreach.

 Callahan noted that the knowledge CTC has gained regarding using the World Wide Web effectively as an asynchronous learning network can be applied to any subject matter. CTC plans a series of future workshops for educators to explore implementing the Virtual Workshop framework in their distance learning endeavors.

 The ASC MSRC at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, is working to bring the latest in high performance technology to DoD scientists and engineers including a Cray C-90, IBM SP, SGI Origin 2000, and an SGI Power Challenge.

The Ohio Supercomputer Center is a state-funded resource serving Ohio's higher education community. The Center and its networking initiative facilitate discoveries that enhance Ohio's economic development and support statewide technological advancement, networking, and education.

CTC is an interdisciplinary research and high-performance computing center located at Cornell University. The Center receives funding from the National Science Foundation, New York State, the National Center for Research Resources at the National Institute of Health, IBM, and members of CTC's Corporate Partnership Program.