NSF Announces New Computer Partnerships
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The National Science Board today chose two awardees for the National Science Foundation's new Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure program. The National Computational Science Alliance (NCSA)--led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign--and the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI)--led by the University of California, San Diego--have been chosen for awards.
"This new program will enable the United States to stay at the leading edge of computational science, producing the best science and engineering in all fields," said Paul Young, senior advisor to NSF's directorate of Computer and Information Science and Engineering. "And staying at the forefront in academia allows industry to quickly follow."
"The quality of the proposals we received from NCSA and NPACI represent a breadth of vision beyond what we had even hoped for," Young said. "The proposals expanded the roles and impact of the leading edge sites. The partnerships will maintain the country's lead in computational science. They will further the use of computers in all disciplines of research and offer new educational opportunities for people ranging from kindergartners through PhD's."
The National Computational Science Alliance, under the leadership of Larry Smarr, lays out a vision for a distributed environment whose goal is to prototype a national information infrastructure that enables the best computational research in the country. The Alliance is organized into four major groups: Application Technologies Teams that drive technology development; Enabling Technologies Teams that convert computer science research into usable tools and infrastructure; Regional Partners with advanced and mid-level computing resources that help distribute the technology to sites throughout the U.S.; and Education, Outreach, and Training Teams that will educate and promote the use of the technology to various sectors of society. In addition, the leading-edge site at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) will support a variety of high-end machines and architectures which will enable high-end computation for scientists and engineers across the country.
The National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure proposal, under the leadership of Sid Karin, includes a national-scale metacomputing environment with diverse hardware and several high-end sites. In addition to supporting the computational needs of high end scientists and engineers across the country via a variety of leading edge machines and architectures at the University of California San Diego, NPACI will foster the transfer of technologies and tools developed by applications and computer scientists for use by these high end users. A major focus will include data-intensive computing, digital libraries and large data set manipulation across many disciplines including engineering and the social sciences, and supported by many partners around the country. Outreach is focused in California and Texas, which represent 20% of the nation's K-12 students.
Additionally, educational efforts will extend across both partnerships. Led by Roscoe Giles of Boston University and Richard Tapia of Rice University, programs will focus on students at all levels providing access to facilities, tools, training and curricula. The efforts will reach out to non-traditional high performance computing communities such as museums and libraries and social scientists and will also have a particular aim at increasing the participation of women and minorities in computing. Educational efforts will be evaluated by the National Institute for Science Education.
The two partnerships complement each other to create a strong national program, Young said.
Funding for Cornell Theory Center and Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, two current NSF centers, will be phased out over a period of up to two years.
The NSF supercomputer centers program began in 1985, and currently consists of four centers: National Center for Supercomputing Applications at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, San Diego Supercomputer Center, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and Cornell Theory Center. In December, 1995, following a task force review of the program, the National Science Board recommended restructuring support for a new program, Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure. Pre-proposals were due in April, 1996 and final proposals were due by September, 1996. From the six final proposals, NSF officials and panels of scientists conducted four site visits beginning in October, 1996. A final summary panel met in late December of 1996 to make final recommendations to the Foundation.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
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