Workshop on Educational Opportunities Associated with a Green High Performance Computing Facility


On April 15, 2010, the Commonwealth Information Technology Initiative (CITI) sponsored a workshop on Educational, Outreach and Economic Opportunities with the Holyoke Green High Performance Computing Center (GHPCC) at the Kittredge Center, Holyoke Community College. The GHPCC partners (Boston University, Harvard University, MIT, Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts, Cisco, EMC Corporation and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) have committed to insuring that the GHPCC plays a crucial role in creating educational and economic opportunities for the City of Holyoke. This workshop was another step in the process of engaging the stakeholders in identifying the opportunities and challenges around the GHPCC. The website for the workshop is april_2010, where additional information, including the agenda and speaker materials, are available.


2011educatorconfgravatarThe timing of the GHPCC workshop was opportune, given that planning on all aspects of the GHPCC (including education and outreach) has been moving forward since the Governor’s June 2009 announcement about setting out plans for a new high performance computing center. Representatives from Boston Uni-versity, Cisco Systems, EMC Corporation, Holyoke Community College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Springfield Technical Community College and the University of Massachusetts, led by UMass Amherst Computer Science professors Rick Adrion, Parviz Kermani and James Kurose, organized the workshop. Holyoke Community College and HCC Dean Susan Mackler and HCC Vice President Jeffrey Hayden hosted the event. CITI Project Manager Renee Fall and Communications Assistant Hillary Rathbun handled the logistics.

The workshop brought together stakeholders in the GHPCC to

(1) learn about educational and outreach activities at other HPC centers in the US;

(2) brainstorm about specific educational and outreach activities and programs that could take place at, leverage, or be enabled by the GHPCC; and

(3) identify individuals and institutions with the vision, energy and interest to begin moving forward on such activities as well as funding sources that might be approached individually and collaboratively for such programs.

More than 70 people from higher education, public schools, community-based organizations, state, local and federal government, industry and the private sector attended the workshop. Dr. Francine Berman, Vice President for Research at RPI and former San Diego Supercomputing Center Director, gave an outstanding keynote address on the state of high-performance computing, the choices faced in identifying an appropriate role for the GHPCC, and how such a center might impact Holyoke, the state and the nation. Panelists Patrick Dreher (RENCI), Roscoe Giles (BU), and Ann Redelfs (Redelfs LLC) shared their experiences in managing HPC centers. Kim Yohannan (EMC) offered her perspective on how the GHPCC can support education and outreach. Susan Mackler (HCC) and Gordon Snyder (STCC) provided insight on the role of community colleges in the GHPCC.

Following the keynote address and the panel, attendees divided into three groups, one focused on four year colleges and universities, one on community colleges and one on K–12 and community groups. Each group addressed the following questions

How to meet local and regional needs?

How to support activities for community organizations and K–12?

How to leverage other activities being undertaken by the partner institutions?

How to interact with state-wide STEM efforts?

How to identify new programs or other academic opportunities such as transfer/articulation agreements, new specialization programs and curriculum materials? and

What role can industry play?

Key issues identified by K–12, community and economic development organizations included the following:

(i) providing access in the neighborhood in the Canal District;

(ii) providing space and staff for outreach efforts and identifying a community liaison immediately;

(iii) involving the city, its schools, community-based organizations and residents directly in the planning, design and execution of programs;

(iv) leveraging and coordinating closely with existing outreach programs and efforts in Holyoke and in the region;

(v) offering professional development for teachers; and (vi) involving parents and families in the education and outreach programs.

The community college group discussed several valuable activities that could be associated with the GHPCC:

(i) offering tours;

(ii) providing professional development opportunities for community college teachers;

(iii) providing “Space Camp” like experiences, student mentoring and boot camps for high school and community college students;

(iv) establishing an educational collaborative;

(v) identifying currently available courses/curriculum/ content/programs;

(vi) providing student and faculty access to new/recycled equipment/ technology; and

(vii) identifying subject matter expertise, e.g., storage, networking

The university group identified

(i) a need and the opportunity for the GHPCC to be a source for an on- demand, virtual resource in K–12 education and in community colleges;

(ii) the need to align with MCAS curriculum concerns;

(iii) the opportunity to provide a locus for summer training for science teachers in using resources in classrooms; and

(iv) the need to connect community colleges and K–12 schools to university research.

Attendees and observers felt that the workshop was a great success and an important step toward insuring that the GHPCC has strong education, outreach and training programs and facilities built into the Center’s plans from the beginning.

Link to pdf of complete report