OSC hosts Midwest Research Computing and Data Consortium meeting

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Mar 2, 2023) — 

The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) is hosting the Spring 2023 meeting of the Midwest Research Computing and Data Consortium (MW-RCD) March 2-3.

The MW-RCD is an alliance of several Midwestern universities that supports experimental, observational and computational sciences through a variety of high performance computing (HPC) resources. The mission of the consortium is to build a community of practice and facilitate collaboration among partner institutions by lowering barriers to access the diverse set of research computing resources at member institutions throughout the Midwestern states.

Indiana University received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in October 2022 to lead the consortium.

“Cyberinfrastructure professionals in academia are highly skilled people who strive to provide value to research and education,” said Winona Snapp-Childs, chief operating officer of the Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI) at Indiana University and principal investigator on the MW-RCD project. “Our aim as a regional consortium is to promote equality and to better serve smaller institutions that may have fewer resources. The award from the NSF gives us the opportunity to bring together these professionals to build strong community bonds that strengthen the collective voice and serve as a buffer against retention issues.”

The Spring 2023 meeting of the MW-RCD will feature discussions on topics such as supporting regulated data, artificial intelligence (AI) workloads and science workflows to process data from research instruments. Preston Smith, executive director for research computing at Purdue University, is the guest speaker.

This is the first in-person meeting of the MW-RCD since May 2019, when the forum was held at the University of Michigan. OSC hopes the event will provide opportunities for in-depth sharing of expertise and best practices, said Karen Tomko, director of research software applications at OSC and member of the MW-RCD steering committee.

“At OSC we feel it is important to provide the opportunity for research computing and data professionals in the region to come together in person again,” Tomko said. “The unplanned discussions that occur during breaks or over lunch are as important as the formal agenda for sharing knowledge between universities and centers and for laying the groundwork for future collaborations.”

Tomko is excited to see how the MW-RCD meeting will foster collaboration between the participating institutions.

“After the meeting being semi-dormant through the COVID-19 pandemic, I am eager to see the collaboration and hear about the areas of research computing that OSC’s colleagues have taken the lead in,” Tomko said. “This meeting will allow us to share what we at OSC are doing to remain at the forefront of supercomputing and learn from other institutions about the work they are doing.”

Data management is one major topic that the MW-RCD universities are slated to discuss, said Mike Warfe, director of research computing and cyberinfrastructure at Case Western Reserve University. As the field of science becomes more data driven, there is a greater need for use of larger instruments, such as an electron microscope, that can generate a lot of data, he said. Warfe looks forward to learning about other universities’ approaches to data management and collaboratively developing a means for handling the issue.

“Having the ability to bring in colleagues from different universities to talk about the same situations that they’re having on campus allows us to share our knowledge, figure out what the best practices are and learn how we can further support our researchers on our various campuses,” Warfe said.

As a part of the steering committee, Warfe said he is able to see firsthand how the committee and consortium’s vision will help bring fields of research out of isolation and connect with one another, ultimately broadening the field.

“For Case Western Reserve, we need to build a network across the Midwest of peers that my team on campus can tap into, ask questions and share experiences with,” Warfe said. “We are trying to grow and mature the advanced cyberinfrastructure profession by having communities like this that expand career paths and help standardize what the profession means.”

Other participating institutions include Purdue University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Michigan, University of Notre Dame, University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute, University of Cincinnati and University of Chicago.

Previous meetings have been held at University of Notre Dame in September 2018, Purdue University in February 2018 and Indiana University in August 2017.

About OSC: The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) addresses the rising computational demands of academic and industrial research communities by providing a robust shared infrastructure and proven expertise in advanced modeling, simulation and analysis. OSC empowers scientists with the services essential to making extraordinary discoveries and innovations, partners with businesses and industry to leverage computational science as a competitive force in the global knowledge economy and leads efforts to equip the workforce with the key technology skills required for 21st century jobs.