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What XSEDE is not

Speed read
  • XSEDE is a human network bringing computationally-enabled science to life.
  • Campus Champions spread the gospel of XSEDE HPC.
  • XSEDE16 video highlights the impact Campus Champions can have.

When you think of the eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) you probably think of high-performance computing (HPC).

You’d not be wrong to think that, as XSEDE helps manage the US national cyberinfrastructure and supports supercomputers and high-end visualization and data analysis resources across the country.

Spreading the word. The XSEDE Campus Champions are an independent network of academics and students representing over 250 institutions across the country. Courtesy XSEDE.

But XSEDE is much more than really fast, really big computers.

“I think of it as a socio-technical ecosystem,” says John Towns, director for science and technology at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois.

“Yes, we have the physical resources like computers, networks, and data stores, but the more important piece is our human network of staff and experts that support research activities. That’s where the heart of XSEDE is.”

Champs on Campus

Important links in this human network are the XSEDE Campus Champions, a collection of 275 members at over 250 universities and colleges across the country. These champions help researchers learn about the broad array of XSEDE services.

<strong>Changing course. </strong>Michael Souffrant is a graduate student at Georgia State University. XSEDE Campus Champions opened his eyes to the value of supercomputing. Courtesy XSEDE.

Take Michael Souffrant, for instance. Souffrant, a graduate student from Georgia State University (GSU) and immigrant from Haiti, is a perfect example of how a career trajectory was supercharged by an encounter with the Campus Champions.

Souffrant is researching state variation in macromolecules like enzymes and needs supercomputing access to view simulated models of these enzymes and other similar structures.

“XSEDE open doors for people like me,” says Souffrant, “to not only study ideas and hypotheses but also to give us opportunities to work on supercomputers and to gain experience on these HPC resources we would not have come close to otherwise.”

<strong>Team of champions. </strong>275 Campus Champions at over 250 organizations across the US broaden access to XSEDE-managed computing resources. Courtesy Steve Duensing; NCSA; XSEDE.

Souffrant would likely have avoided HPC were it not for the persistence of the XSEDE Campus Champions at GSU. Now there is one more scientist with the ability to use HPC to complete their academic work and expand human knowledge.

The future of science is in the hands of those equipped to navigate the cyberinfrastructure of the modern scientific workspace. Thanks to XSEDE's Campus Champions, a new generation of academics are ready for supercomputers.

It’s easy to think of XSEDE as a collection of supercomputers.  But XSEDE is not merely the big metal compute machines under lock and key at the edge of your campus. 

No, the most important element of XSEDE is its human network — showing the way to the discoveries of tomorrow.

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