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NCSA Welcomes National Academy Report

NCSA expresses its unwavering commitment to sustaining advanced computing infrastructure and collaborating with the scientific community to solve the world’s most challenging problems.

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign welcomes the recommendations in the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s newly released report Future Directions for NSF Advanced Computing Infrastructure to Support U.S. Science and Engineering in 2017-2020.

Advanced computing is of critical importance to an expanding set of scientific problems and disciplines. Maintaining U.S. innovation and leadership in this field requires coordination of the nation’s computing talent and resources, according to a long-awaited report to the National Science Foundation (NSF) by the nation’s computing experts. “NCSA applauds the committee’s recommendations and we are committed to sustaining advanced computing infrastructure in partnership with the scientific community in order to solve the world’s most challenging problems,” said Ed Seidel, Director of NCSA. “Many new advances in science and engineering that are necessary to address societal grand challenges require a blend of new scientific and engineering expertise combined with advanced computing and data environments. NCSA will continue to support the NSF’s—and Director France Córdova’s—visions with ideas, resources, and innovations that will strengthen and grow leadership in U.S. science and engineering.”

The report is in response to the NSF request that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine provide recommendations for a framework for future decision-making about NSF’s advanced computing strategy and programs. The report, which aligns with many of the objectives in President Obama’s National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), includes input from 60 individuals, research groups, and organizations who are leaders in the cyberinfrastructure space. It is consistent with other National Research Council (NRC) reports in the past. The report’s recommendations are aimed at achieving four broad goals: (1) positioning the U.S. for continued leadership in science and engineering, (2) ensuring that resources meet community needs, (3) aiding the scientific community in keeping up with the revolution in computing, and (4) sustaining the infrastructure for advanced computing.

“We support the committee’s findings that it will take collaboration by the scientific and engineering communities to sustain our infrastructure so there is no interruption in the frontier research and discovery that is on the cusp of scientific breakthroughs,” said Bill Kramer, Director and Principal Investigator of the Blue Waters Project. “It was a visionary award made by the NSF 30 years ago that established NCSA, which has enabled the cutting-edge research, education, and innovation that continues to this day through the Blue Waters Project. We look forward to continuing these world class initiatives for the next generations of systems and services that will service U.S. research communities.”

NCSA is home of the NSF-supported Blue Waters supercomputer, the largest and most powerful computing and data system available to the open science and engineering academic community in the United States. Scientists, engineers, educators, students and companies from across the U.S. use Blue Waters to perform quadrillions of calculations every second to discover answers to questions that have an enormous potential for positive impacts on society, such as how do viruses spread destruction in the human body to how to harness energy from sunlight? How can we predict and prepare for when and where earthquakes and tornadoes will strike and the destruction they cause? What are the properties and challenges for the future generations of electronics and other materials? How was the universe created and what do we need to know about its laws and properties?

Professor Thomas H. Jordan, Director of the Southern California Earthquake Center at the University of Southern California, uses Blue Waters in his research. “Supercomputers like Blue Waters are among the most powerful scientific instruments in our research arsenal,” said Jordan. “This unique NSF resource has allowed the Southern California Earthquake Center to simulate earthquake systems in enough detail to anticipate future seismic behavior. We now have better models of what will happen when earthquakes strike, allowing us to reduce their destructive potential.”

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