Thursday, March 29, 2012

US-XSEDE ripple effect crosses the pond: UK-NGS Campus Champion Program takes flight!

On Tuesday I attended a presentation about the UK National Grid Service (NGS) Campus Champion program by Gillian Sinclair (NGS, Manchester). I was pleased when Dr. Sinclair paid tribute to the US National Science Foundation’s TeraGrid/XSEDE Campus Champion model on her opening slide. As TeraGrid’s external relations coordinator, I watched the initiative grow from one champion in 2008, to more than 129 when TeraGrid ended last summer. The program continues under the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) under the leadership of Kay Hunt (Purdue), one of the program founders.

In the US, Campus Champions are volunteers who represent a variety of roles on their campuses, including faculty, central information technology administrators, technology project managers, academic computing administrators, instructional designers, and a growing number of high performance computing specialists. They are a conduit of knowledge about local, regional, and national resources and provide assistance and training to faculty and students who may not have been acquainted with high-performance and high-throughput technologies and everything else that is available through the various US cyberinfrastructure programs. In exchange for participating, their annual conference fees are waived and all are welcome to the variety of training opportunities offered by the XSEDE program.

The UK-NGS model is very similar, except their program is not funded to subsidize professional activities. The NGS offers their Campus Champions training in NGS usage and grid resources. There are currently 16 NGS Campus Champions based at 15 UK institutions. Seven Community Champions are funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through SelUCCR (Supporting e-Infrastructure Uptake through Community Champions for Research). The research areas represented include:

• Computer Science

• Computational Biophysics

• Physics

• Biomedicine

• Engineering

• Chemistry

• Energy

While the UK Campus and Community Champions programs are new, if the US model is any indication of their future growth, we can expect escalating numbers and a continuation of the ripple effect across Europe, and beyond. Hopefully, additional funding by EU and US stakeholders will enable broader engagement in the future.

Read more about the UK-NGS Campus and Community Champion programs:

For information about the XSEDE Campus Champion program, visit:

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