2014 Virtual School of Computational Science and Engineering (VSCSE) Coverage

This summer, Michigan State University joined with a national group of geographically dispersed, prominent universities as host sites for advanced computational workshops organized by the Virtual School of Computational Science and Engineering (VSCSE). The VSCSE is a virtual organization that delivers computational science curriculum to accelerate the ability of researchers of leverage emerging computational resources to advance science and engineering. This is the fourth year that the Institute for Cyber-Enabled Research (iCER) at MSU has participated as a host site. Two different courses were offered: "Harness the Power of CPU's: Introduction to GPGPU Programming", and a "Data Intensive Summer School". At MSU, each course had between 15 – 25 participants. The course curriculum and slides are available here.

"Harness the Power of GPU's: Introduction to GPGPU Programming" consisted of a mixture of lectures and labs that gave an overview of the CPU architecture and common approaches for parallelization, as well as optimization and profiling tools to aid application developers. Participants also learned about common pitfalls of parallel computing, gained hands-on experience programming in CUDA and OpenACC, and were exposed to basic principles of data parallel programming. When asked about feedback about the course, MSU Junior, Eric Coldwell shared with us, "Those that attended found it useful as it gave a solid background on CUDA programming and OpenACC. By the end of the week, people felt confident enough to use both languages and that they knew enough to make an informed decision about which was best for them."

In the "Data Intensive Summer School", students signed up to learn about how to work with and manage large datasets. Topics included globus.org, Kepler workflow manager, filesystems, Hadoop and R. Also called "big data" and the "data deluge", working with larger datasets in becoming important across all disciplines of research. Enrollment for the "Data Intensive Summer School" was much higher than the GPGPU class, demonstrating the desire of researchers from across campus to learn how to work using these new scientific tools. Because this is such a broad reaching topic in a new and exciting area, researchers are still unsure of what tools are available and needed. One of the best benefits of a VSCSE workshop is to bring people together from across disciplines, get them to exchange ideas, share thoughts and work together to enable new and transformative research.