VizREU: XSEDE14 Experience

[ Michael Bosch | Colleen Burns | Cameron Collins | Kenneth Curtis | Luther Fant | Hali Gallagher | Mokell Moses | Asher Sampong | Tyler Slonecki ]

Cameron Collins
Coastal Carolina University

First off, it was very awesome that I got this experience and thought that it gave me good insight as to what is going on within academia. It was very generous of the University of Texas-Austin and the National Science Foundation to provide this opportunity to all of us. The experience was a great opportunity for me to network and learn more about what is going on in the field of High Performance Computing. I learned a lot about the applications of physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science in industry, and what sort of research is going on in each of those fields.

The best part of the experience for me was the opportunity I had to network with graduate students, professors, developers, and scientists at the conference. One particular person I met that I learned a lot from was Dr. Dirk Colbry. He is the director of high performance computing at Michigan State University, and gave me a lot of good information about Michigan Stateís graduate school program. I found out about two internship programs he has at his school, iCER where students learn about high performance computing and systems administration. His wife is the director of admissions for the graduate school, and is a contact for an REU program at Michigan State. I also networked with students at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, where they have a year-long REU program and have a lot of cool research going on in high performance computing. The networking part was the best aspect for me because I didnít understand a lot of the other sciences that a lot of the talks were about. I do hope to have another opportunity to attend this conference so that I can network more, progress in my work, and meet new people. This is an opportunity that I feel should be implemented into more REU programs so students can get the full research experience.

[ Michael Bosch | Colleen Burns | Cameron Collins | Kenneth Curtis | Luther Fant | Hali Gallagher | Mokell Moses | Asher Sampong | Tyler Slonecki ]


Mokell Moses
Norfolk State University

Previously when I thought of a conference, I pictured a meeting in a huge room with many old and professional scholars and educators. I considered a conference to be no place suitable for a young leaner such as myself or any other undergraduate. This perception changed once I received a travel grant to attend the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) conference this year in Atlanta, Georgia. I was funded to attend the conference as a student volunteer. While my duties as a volunteer were my first priority, I was able to attend some pretty interesting classes and sessions.

There were numerous lightning talks that took place during the conference. They were not very long and they took place right after the other. Some of the topics included: Engaging Undergraduates in High Performance Computing, Benefits of Cross Memory Attach for MPI libraries on HPC Clusters, Methods For Creating XSEDE Compatible Clusters, and so on and so forth. I listened and tuned in more to the talks that sparked my interests such as: Launcher: A Shell-based Framework for Rapid Development of Parallel Parametric Studies. This particular talk was developing parallel parametric studies more quickly using the launcher.

I met plenty of new people at the conference. A good number of them came from the group of REU students who came from the University of Texas. They were a welcoming group who were fun to hang around. I made sure to introduce myself to a couple of the instructors who taught the classes that I attended. I stumbled across the opportunity to present my elevator pitch to a couple of important looking people that I met in the elevator and also during the breaks between classes.

I was asked to attend a session in which I was expected to talk about my REU experience. It went pretty well. It felt like a press conference as there were microphones and a long desk in the front of the room. Questions were asked and I answered them. It was an experience that I would love to experience again.

XSEDE14 was my first time attending a conference and it was an eye-opening experience. There were so many different nations and countries represented there. It was a professional atmosphere and I learned to how to act more professionally as to not stick out. I fully intend to apply to XSEDE15 next year.

[ Michael Bosch | Colleen Burns | Cameron Collins | Kenneth Curtis | Luther Fant | Hali Gallagher | Mokell Moses | Asher Sampong | Tyler Slonecki ]


Luther Fant
Clemson University

We arrived at XSEDE14 Sunday afternoon. After unpacking we met and went to the student and mentors dinner where we shared tables with others from schools all over the nation. A small introduction was given to welcome us to the conference.

Monday was tutorial day. I attended a hands-on workshop about parallel computing with MPI and open MP. I did not realize that OpenMP is a tool that converts serial code into parallel and this was by far the most interesting thing I attended this week. Monday afternoon I attended a BOF titled ďScience Gateway SecurityĒ. I was expecting a discussion about various types of security, protecting networks from attacks, etc. I misunderstood the description. The BOF was about updating the registration process for the XSEDE website and updating certificates. Tuesday I attended the XSEDE keynote and State of XSEDE which transitioned to the Plenary concerning the state of one of California's largest delta and how visualization is contributing to how the problem will be addressed. After this I attended a talk about various ways of utilizing NVIDIA GPUS in 2 and 3 way configurations and the benefits of each. The differences were a bit difficult to understand but I believe that performance gain with 3-way stems primarily from asymmetrical workloads. I spent the rest of Tuesday working a my project.

On Wednesday morning, I attended the joint BOF by Dr. Byrd and Dr. Samuel Moore about underrepresentation. There was also discussion about the REUís from Clemson and Texas University. That afternoon I attended the Lightning Talks where 4 students took turns presenting their research. I was very glad to have attended this. It was a good example of what a concise presentation should be with relevant visuals. I noticed that not one of them was reading their posters verbatim and maintained good presence with the audience.

On Thursday there was a morning discussion about clusters that use the new Intel Xeon Phi cards. Once again, it was less about theory and more about how to manage and configure these computers using what tools and tips about which update versions have the highest capability, etc. This is probably my biggest complaint about XSEDE. It was less of introducing and teaching tools and more about discussion on niche hardware and software solutions in somewhat specific scenarios. Having said that, I feel that I would have gotten more out of XSEDE if all the tutorials hadnít been relegated to just Monday and spread throughout the week. But overall it was a fairly interesting experience and I did get some insight into networking in the academic and professional world and it was a useful week.

[ Michael Bosch | Colleen Burns | Cameron Collins | Kenneth Curtis | Luther Fant | Hali Gallagher | Mokell Moses | Asher Sampong | Tyler Slonecki ]


Kenneth Curtis
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Overall, the XSEDE14 Conference was a lot of funny and well as a great learning experience. I got network with people I wouldnít normally meet, learn more about High Performance Computing, and meet new friends. I was impacted from this conference by seeing the importance of how attending conferences like this early in your college career could benefit you in the long run. Now that Iíve been to this one, I want to get our ACM chapter at UAB to look into going to conferences like XSEDE as they would greatly benefit those who attend. I would most definitely recommend this conference to other students because it is a great chance to get exposed to new things, an excellent chance to network and a good chance to meet new people. Read Full Summary: [PDF]

[ Michael Bosch | Colleen Burns | Cameron Collins | Kenneth Curtis | Luther Fant | Hali Gallagher | Mokell Moses | Asher Sampong | Tyler Slonecki ]


Michael Bosch
University of South Dakota

Overall, I would say that the time spent at the XSEDE[14] conference was worth it. I was able to gain valuable information on how the academic world functioned and how my peers were doing in regards to becoming a part of that world. I also gained a good amount of motivation to continue my goals toward graduate school and a future career in Academia.

This being my first conference experience, I was unsure about what to do and how to do it in terms of asking my peers questions about their research and networking with people of interest. As a result, I felt that a lot of my time spent in sessions and at lunches were spent observing how other, perhaps more experienced, people did such things. I think that it was still a great experience in going to this conference and I would recommend it to others, even if would be their first conference, as it was for me.

Participating in the poster session near the end of the conference was a fantastic experience. This was my first poster presentation I had given relating to a project I had personally been working on, and I didnít know what to expect from my peers in terms of questions about my project. Even though I may have been nervous initially, I was still really enthusiastic about my project and found that whatever question I was asked I wanted to answer in as much detail as possible. Read Full Summary: [PDF]

[ Michael Bosch | Colleen Burns | Cameron Collins | Kenneth Curtis | Luther Fant | Hali Gallagher | Mokell Moses | Asher Sampong | Tyler Slonecki ]


Hali Gallagher
Coastal Carolina University

I attended the first half of A Beginnerís Guide to Visualization to learn about how to use the visualization tool Gephi. I thought the tutorial was simple and easy to follow along with. It was also useful toward my project since I wanted to use Gephi to visualize my data. I also attended the last half of Secure Coding practices as I thought it would be useful toward my major. I think it may have been more useful if I had taken more computer classes as the tutorial was probably on an intermediate or advanced level. I think thatís probably the reason I didnít really understand anything in the tutorial.

I also went to the Efficient Data Analysis with the IPython Notebook talk. I just wanted to know what IPython Notebook was. It was also a pretty advanced talk but I saved the files from the tutorial so that I could view them later when I knew more about computers as I thought it may be useful. From what I gather IPython Notebook is a tool used for coding. I was able to follow along for part of the tutorial that was using the IPython notebook to solve math equations.

I attended the Opening Session: Welcome to XSEDE14, XSEDE Address, and Plenary: Can a $25+ Billion Investment Help California Balance Water Supply Reliability and Ecosystem Sustainability? Does Science Play and Important Part? I thought it was an interesting talk but thought it was kind of strange to present a talk on Californiaís water problem in Georgia. It also didnít really answer the title. I felt like the talk was like we really need someone to solve this problem. I also went to TECH: Descriptive Data Analysis of File Transfer Data and then later to the TECH: Building an Information System for a Distributed Testbed which again I had the feeling I wouldnít understand much about either talk due to my lack of knowledge about computers but I recorded both the talks for later use. I feel like both the talks were just like here is what I do in my job. I also went to the Plenary: Learning Communities in the Mathematical and Computational Sciences: Success Stories and the Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute (MTBI) which was just a talk about the success stories of underrepresented students in those fields of study. I thought it was an interesting and inspiring talk. I also went to the Graduate School Speed Networking which I thought was really useful. Sometimes as an undergraduate you donít really get to see the fun classes or what the major youíre in really does so it was interesting. It was also nice to learn that just because you undergraduate in one major doesnít mean youíre stuck with that major in graduate school. Itís nice to know that I can still change my mind. attended the SRE Student Elevator Talks, Lightning Talks, and then volunteered for part of the day on Wednesday. I thought the Elevator Talks and Lightning Talks were useful to go to because it prepares me for those sort of events in the future for when I have to give one. I also got to help the judges enter in the scores for the posters so I actually knew who won before most people. I didnít really tell anyone though because I thought itíd ruin the surprise.

I think attending XSEDE14 was really useful though and would recommend it to any students because it just furthers your experience. I really liked meeting new people and networking. I think itís a useful skill to learn for anyone to help further their careers.

[ Michael Bosch | Colleen Burns | Cameron Collins | Kenneth Curtis | Luther Fant | Hali Gallagher | Mokell Moses | Asher Sampong | Tyler Slonecki ]


Asher Sampong
Fort Valley State University
Overall I enjoyed the conference and learnt new information, but I believe I would have benefitted more if I knew about some of the subjects that were presented or discussed as they seemed to be at an advanced level I have not yet taken classes or courses on. I would recommend this conference to my fellow undergraduates but especially computer science, computer or electrical engineering majors because I believe they would have more to leave the conference with. Read Full Summary: [PDF]

[ Michael Bosch | Colleen Burns | Cameron Collins | Kenneth Curtis | Luther Fant | Hali Gallagher | Mokell Moses | Asher Sampong | Tyler Slonecki ]


Colleen Burns
University of Arkansas

This conference was my first poster presentation, and altogether it was a positive experience. I was able to answer questions about my research and received mostly positive feedback. Overall, I had a very good experience at XSEDE. I met engaging people who were working on interesting research and I learned quite a bit from the talks I attended. My favorite part of the conference was seeing the Augmented Reality program and I would like to learn more about the concept. This was a valuable networking opportunity and I plan to remain in communication with several people I met at the conference.

Read Full Summary: [PDF]

[ Michael Bosch | Colleen Burns | Cameron Collins | Kenneth Curtis | Luther Fant | Hali Gallagher | Mokell Moses | Asher Sampong | Tyler Slonecki ]


Tyler Slonecki
Wofford College
Graduate School Speed Networking

I attended this event hoping to meet some representative from graduate schools, but it turned out to be graduate students from various institutions. So, it was not exactly what I was expecting, but it was still useful. I managed to talk to quite a few graduate students, and even though none of them were in the field Iím interested in pursuing, all of them offered me valuable advice. Read Full Summary: [PDF]

[ Michael Bosch | Colleen Burns | Cameron Collins | Kenneth Curtis | Luther Fant | Hali Gallagher | Mokell Moses | Asher Sampong | Tyler Slonecki ]

VizREU site student participation at XSEDE14 funded by NSF Supplement -- OSP 201302511-004