Undergraduates Begin Their Summer of Exploration in Computational Science
By Scott Gibson
Participants in the Computational Science for Undergraduate Research Experiences (CSURE) 2014 summer internship program—a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates, or REU, conducted by the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences (JICS)—are approaching the completion of their first week of activities on the campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
After getting settled at the apartment complex near UT-Knoxville campus that will be their home for the next nine weeks of CSURE, the students, 10 from schools across the U.S. and four from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, received orientation, an introduction to scientific computing, a tour of the high-performance computing facilities at ORNL, and overviews of HPC skill areas such as Linux, C programming, parallel programming, and others.
This week is also time for the students to become acquainted with their mentors and their projects, which will delve into the domains of atmospheric sciences, chemistry and materials sciences, engineering mechanics, numerical libraries on emergent platforms, and systems biology.
The mentoring by high-performance computing (HPC) experts from JICS and the students' pursuits of individual projects, combined with timely and targeted lectures on HPC and leading-edge research in HPC-supported scientific domains are integral to the essence of CSURE: providing the student participants with a synergistic set of knowledge and skills they will need to begin using computational methods.
Although the CSURE students will be quite busy with their project work—which will entail writing a paper, developing a poster, and sharpening their communications skills through one-on-one interaction at poster sessions and audience engagement during formal presentations—they will have opportunities to get to know one another in more relaxed social gatherings and enjoy the beauty of East Tennessee. A pool party is planned, as are outings to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Knoxville Zoo organized by UT-Knoxville's National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, known as NIMBioS.
The students have so far shown themselves to have at least two commonalities: intelligence and motivation. "Participants in this year's CSURE summer internship program were carefully selected from a total of 30 competing bright students' applications," said Christian Halloy, JICS computational scientist and a CSURE program mentor. "The selection process was based on each candidate's academic background, their current interests as described in a short essay, and letters of recommendation. Well into our first week of activities, we are already observing that this is a wonderful group of sharp and motivated interns."
In future reporting on CSURE 2014, we'll hear from the students concerning their thoughts and reflections on how the program is enriching their education, personal lives, and prospects for a career in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics field.
Article posting date: 5 June 2014
About JICS and NICS: The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences (JICS) was established by the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to advance scientific discovery and state-of-the-art engineering, and to further knowledge of computational modeling and simulation. JICS realizes its vision by taking full advantage of petascale-and-beyond computers housed at ORNL and by educating a new generation of scientists and engineers well versed in the application of computational modeling and simulation for solving the most challenging scientific and engineering problems. JICS runs the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS), which had the distinction of deploying and managing the Kraken supercomputer. NICS is a leading academic supercomputing center and a major partner in the National Science Foundation's eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment, known as XSEDE. In November 2012, JICS sited the Beacon system, which set a record for power efficiency and captured the number one position on the Green500 list of the most energy-efficient computers.