Collaborating to Expand High Performance Computing for Researchers at UTSA

October 31, 2016



by Rosalind Ong De Trevino at 9:49 AM in Campus Community, Productivity

Image from Supporting Research Computing: The RCSG at UTSA video produced by the Video Production group

 

The University of Texas at San Antonio’s (UTSA) research needs have expanded greatly over the recent years. This has been due in part to the university’s efforts to achieve Tier One status. To support this, the Office of Information Technology’s (OIT) Research Computing Support Group (RCSG) is collaborating with faculty across the university to discover where enhancements in technology could support their research as well as find innovative ways to use what is already in place.

 

Partnering to Promote Research

The RCSG has worked in partnership with the OIT Video Production Group (VPG) to produce a video that highlights what the RCSG is designed to do and how this support can benefit the entire university. “With our new brand, Collaborate. Innovate. Succeed. OIT is looking to market itself to the university community as a people-oriented organization...and I think the best way to do that is to tell the story or stories of our people helping our UTSA clients and customers in innovative ways,” stated Director of Video Technology Ernest Hernandez.

The VPG regularly supports UTSA faculty to create videos that can be used as learning tools to enhance the student experience and to promote the six priorities of the UTSA 2020 Blueprint. This video effort with RCSG was an opportunity to work with departments across the university to showcase OIT support resources available to student and faculty researchers at UTSA, and dynamically communicate the message using video. Hernandez stated, “I think everything connects with OIT in one way or another, because OIT is very plugged into supporting UTSA's mission of enabling student success and advances in research.”

 

Tier One Research and Technology

Technology staff to support researchers as they use these resources is critical to developing buy-in from faculty and staff who can spread the word of available services. The RCSG provides support for faculty and student researchers and data analytics through various means including storage, Research Data Centers, and Shamu (the high compute cluster). As research and data analytics expand, high performance computing resources are needed to support researchers at UTSA.

The RCSG is continually evaluating the needs of the university. Through interaction with UTSA researchers, the group has been able to expand the conversation on technology to maintain this critical area at UTSA. They are assisting with various research projects including the use of an Electron Microscope as well as connecting a high powered telescope to the VizWall. Furthermore, they have identified areas to target in order to ensure the university is primed to support increased research data such as the need to increase network bandwidth.

 

Infrastructure Improvements for High Performance Computing Support

The RCSG recently collaborated with Interim Vice Provost for IT and CIO Bryan Wilson and multiple interdisciplinary faculty across campus to apply for a National Science Foundation Grant to bring a 10G connectivity, research only network, to several buildings on campus. Director of Research Computing Support and Innovative Solutions Brent League stated, “Over the years I have heard from many faculty researchers that they just didn’t have enough bandwidth coming from their lab or their office up to the Texas Advanced Computing Center in Austin or even to the research data center here on campus which runs the centrally shared High Performance Computing cluster.” Due to this the RCSG believe this improvement would benefit UTSA as a whole as it expands rather than a single disciplinary unit.

Increased collaboration and support of academic partners at UTSA applying for grants, awards, and other opportunities is one of the objectives of OIT in support of UTSA 2020 Blueprint. Discussing the experience of collaborating to apply for the grant as an institution, Associate Dean of the College of Engineering Harry Millwater Ph.D., noted, “To me that is groundbreaking.” Details from staffing, research computing facilities, and technology needs were collected and thoroughly analyzed to ensure feasibility. Dr. Millwater expressed that, “Just doing that, even if we don’t win, was a tremendous benefit I thought. We had people working from all over campus putting it together.”

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For more information on High Performance Computing support at UTSA visit: Hpcsupport.utsa.edu or contact the OIT Research Computing Group at RCISG@utsa.edu.

The Office of Information Technology’s (OIT) Research Computing Support Group (RCSG) was formed by a committee of faculty researchers with support from OIT to provide necessary support for UTSA researchers who are dependent on high performance computing.

The RCSG, led by Director of Research Computing Support Brent League, supports UTSA’s research community by facilitating growth, enabling productivity and innovation, maintaining and supporting the Research Data Center, offering High Performance Computing solutions and managing the UTSA Advanced Visualization Lab (VizLab).


Supporting Research Computing: The RCSG at UTSA Video: https://vimeo.com/183027633