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NCSA kicks off 25th anniversary year with March 2 celebration

Nearly 200 people attended NCSA’s 25th anniversary kickoff celebration March 2 at the NCSA Building. Campus dignitaries, faculty, and staff joined NCSA employees in reflecting on the center’s past while envisioning NCSA’s next 25 years.

The center’s founding director, Larry Smarr, who now leads the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), addressed the gathering via a live video feed. Reminiscing about the spirit of exploration and innovation that NCSA embodied from its earliest days Smarr said, “I guess nobody said we couldn’t do it…We were allowed to dream.”

Dan Reed, the center’s second director, who now leads the eXtreme Computing Group and is Corporate Vice President of Technology Policy and Strategy at Microsoft, spoke in a pre-recorded message. NCSA is known as “being the future, now,” he said. “What NCSA is doing today, others will be doing five years from now.”

Current NCSA director Thom Dunning reflected on the important happenings since he joined NCSA in 2005. In addition, he shared information about current and future projects and their impact on science and engineering research and what those advances will mean to society. “But none of this would be possible without the great people who make up NCSA,” he noted. “NCSA really is its people.”

A roundtable on the importance of high-performance computing in modern research completed the program. University of Illinois’ faculty members Guy Garnett (I3 and eDream), Brian Jewett (Atmospheric Sciences), Jian Ma (Bioengineering), and Shaowen Wang (Geography), were joined by Kevin Hostetter of Caterpillar Inc., one of NCSA’s private sector partners, as moderator Victor Jongeneel (NCSA and Institute for Genomic Biology) engaged them in a discussion of how supercomputing impacted past and current research, and what advances in supercomputing technology may mean to their projects as well as the academic research community.

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