The mission of the Department of Energy's national laboratories is to address problems of national scope that cannot be easily addressed in the nation's research universities. Such problems require a breadth and depth of expertise not found in any one institution. DOE's Center for Computational Sciences at ORNL addresses such problems through partnerships with academia, other national laboratories, and, as appropriate, industry.
The CCS has established collaborations and partnerships with research scientists throughout the nation. CCS's activities in support of DOE's Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing program involves collaborations with scientists at 50 universities and 13 national laboratories. Most other major programs also involve partnerships and collaborations.
CCS supports joint appointments at a number of research universities, especially the University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt University, and UT-Battelle's six "core universities"—Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina State, and the University of Virginia. These appointments involve direct participation of university faculty in ORNL research projects that then become part of the educational curriculum at the faculty's home institution. CCS now has about a dozen joint appointments, a number that is growing each year.
Joint Institute for Computational Sciences
To further enhance the Laboratory's research collaborations, ORNL and UT established the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences (JICS) three years ago. Later this spring JICS, along with the Oak Ridge Center for Advanced Studies, will occupy a new 52,000 sq. ft, $10 million building being constructed on the ORNL campus by the state of Tennessee. Both the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and ORNL have pledged new joint faculty positions to support JICS's research and educational programs. The facility has space for 30 faculty and 40 to 50 students. Tennessee state officials see JICS as a significant step forward in cementing the close and valuable partnership between UT and ORNL.
JICS has three strategic goals. First, the institute will work closely with CCS to help create major new modeling and simulation capabilities for terascale and beyond computers and to use these new capabilities to solve the science and engineering problems of greatest importance to DOE and the nation. Second, JICS will partner with UT to help train scientists and engineers to model and simulate natural and engineered systems on terascale and beyond supercomputers and to educate a new generation of scientists and engineers well versed in the application of computational modeling and simulation in research and education. Finally, JICS will join with CCS, UT, and UT-Battelle's core universities to help create a state-of-the-art cyber infrastructure for science and engineering in the southeastern United States.
director of JICS is Thomas Dunning. A pioneer in computational molecular
science, Dunning has long been involved
in the management of scientific research.
"Computational science is at a turning point," he says. "Our ability to simulate the real world increases with every advance in computing technology. However, it is becoming more and more difficult to realize the full benefit of these advances. The way to solve this problem is through long-term partnerships—partnerships between physical and biological scientists, computer scientists, and mathematicians, as well as partnerships between the national laboratories and universities. JICS will be the meeting ground for these partnerships. The institute will provide a direct link between scientists at ORNL with those at UT and UT-Battelle's core universities."
One key feature of the JICS facility is that it will provide five incubator suites, each about 1600 sq. ft. The suites can be used as classrooms, small conference rooms, or computer laboratories by ORNL staff, visiting faculty, and graduate students working together on computational research projects.
One of the suites has a raised floor, electrical power, and cooling equipment, making it ideal for a cluster of computers for research. The other four suites also have electrical power and cooling connections, so they can house computers and printers, as well as tables, chairs, and chalkboards.
In addition, a suite could be made available to a commercial firm for proprietary research in collaboration with ORNL researchers under an approved cost recovery basis. Other suites could be used for basic research and nonproprietary technology development collaborations among researchers from ORNL and university partners.
Joint Faculty Appointments
Researchers in JICS will have joint faculty appointments, enabling them to teach at a university and conduct research on site at ORNL. JICS will minimize the problem of geographical non-locality by using the latest electronic collaboratory and distance education tools. Electronic collaboratory tools will allow faculty to continue their research activities when they return to their home institutions. Distance education tools will enable graduate students doing research in JICS to take classes from their home institution. The tools will also allow faculty members working several months on a project at JICS to televise their class from Oak Ridge to their home university, or even to other members of the consortium.
These greatly enhanced communications capabilities will be supported by a new, 10 gigabit-per-second network being constructed to connect ORNL with UT and the core universities.
Research Alliance for Minorities
A critical partnership aimed at identifying and training the next generation of computational scientists is the DOE Research Alliance for Minorities (RAM) Program, which is based on the belief that national laboratories and universities, working hand in hand, offer the best opportunity to improve the quality and diversity of the workforce. The short-term goal is to increase the number of underrepresented minorities pursuing degrees in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. These minorities include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and women. The RAM program supports DOE's long-term goal of increasing the number of underrepresented individuals with advanced technical degrees on the staffs of the national laboratories. It is designed to provide collaborative research experiences involving students, faculty, and laboratory researchers in numerous technological disciplines. Students in 10-week summer internships in the computational sciences and applied mathematics learn from the experts and gain hands-on experience in preparing and giving oral and poster session presentations. They are encouraged to seek advanced degrees and consider ORNL the employer of choice upon graduation.
Web site provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Communications and External Relations