The First National Research Platform Workshop: Aug 7-8 in Bozeman, MT April 20, 2017

The First National Research Platform Workshop: Toward A National Big Data Superhighway will be held at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, on August 7 & 8, 2017. The workshop is sponsored by the Pacific Research Platform/National Science Foundation. Larry Smarr of UC San Diego and Jim Bottum of Internet2 are co-chairing the event. The purpose of this workshop is to bring together representatives from interested institutions to discuss implementation strategies for deployment of interoperable Science DMZs at a national scale.

The National Science Foundation funded a 5-year cooperative agreement for the Pacific Research Platform (PRP) to improve the end-to-end high-speed networking data transfer capabilities in collaborative, big-data science among 20 institutions including four National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and NASA supercomputer centers. As part of the PRP cooperative agreement, NSF requires that the ensemble of PRP technologies be extensible across other scientific domains and to other regional and national networks. In response to this requirement, the First National Research Platform (NRP) Workshop this summer will solicit input from many multi-state networking organizations (Internet2, The Quilt, ESnet) on how the PRP model might be extended to a national scale. The PRP leadership will communicate its successes and lessons learned to date. The Workshop will then focus on whether, how, and when the Science DMZ practice can be extended 10-fold to ~200 US universities and labs, thousands of researchers, and to their colleagues abroad.

For more information about the workshop, including registration details, please visit the workshop website:

Women in IT Networking at SC Awarded the 2017 Innovations in Networking Award for Experimental Applications March 30, 2017

MARCH 13, 2017 – In recognition of work to expand the diversity of the SCinet volunteer staff and to provide professional development opportunities to highly qualified women in the field of networking, the Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) program has been selected by CENIC as a recipient of the 2017 Innovations in Networking Award for Experimental Applications. Project members being recognized include Wendy Huntoon (KINBER), Marla Meehl (UCAR), and Kate Petersen Mace, Lauren Rotman, and Jason Zurawski (ESnet).

This powerful collaboration fosters gender diversity in the field of technology, a critical need. By funding women IT professionals to participate in SCinet and to attend the Supercomputing Conference, the program allows the next generation of technology leaders to gain critical skills.

“Until you roll your sleeves up and dig into building and operating SCinet, which is an amazingly robust, high-bandwidth network that exists for just two weeks, it’s hard to imagine just how tough it is — and how rewarding it is,” said Inder Monga, Director of ESnet, the Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network. “Many of our ESnet engineers have been members of the SCinet team over the years, bringing back valuable skills in network operations, project management, teamwork, and on-the-spot problem-solving. Our support of WINS is one way of contributing back to the conference and the community’s growth and success.”

In 2016, eight women were selected to be part of the WINS program; three were funded to return to SC16 after participating in the 2015 WINS cohort. Sana Bellamine, a CENIC Core Engineer, was a 2015 WINS award winner and was invited to participate again in SC16. As a part of her work on SCinet, she used high-end, state-of-the-art equipment to test 100 Gbps circuits, setting up the environment to test these circuits, and documenting the procedure for doing so. In addition to developing technical expertise, Sana formed lasting relationships with other members of the 2015 WINS cohort. They regularly exchange knowledge, code, and advice using a slack channel (a form of instant messaging), which helps inform their ongoing work within their respective organizations.

As Sana reflects on this experience and its continuing benefits, she notes, “I am thankful to CENIC and to the WINS program for the opportunity to be part of the SCinet team. As one of the SCinet wide-area network team members in 2016, I worked in close collaboration with another awardee on the development of procedures for testing 100GE circuits at line rate. These procedures were used to validate 7x100GE circuits into the SuperComputing show floor. CENIC associates were able to achieve the desired throughput for their planned demos over these 100GE links. The SCinet network is a mature, multi-vendor environment with a rich set of the tools. Having direct exposure to the SCinet network enables me to explore new approaches in my daily work at CENIC.”

Kate Petersen Mace, one of the project leaders from ESnet and the SC14 SCinet Chair, notes that “The WINS program has been an overwhelming success for SCinet as a whole. As a long-time SCinet member, I understand through experience the amazing challenges and opportunities that volunteering for SCinet present. The dedication and diverse set of skills the WINS awardees have brought has been invaluable, and has strengthened the SCinet team. The WINS Management team is thrilled to see CENIC help lead the way in celebrating the value of a diverse workforce through its continued support of unique training and professional development opportunities—such as SCinet—for its employees.”

Participants grow immeasurably through their involvement with this high-capacity network that supports revolutionary HPC applications and experiments. By joining volunteers from academia, government, and industry working together to design and deliver SCinet, they acquire skills and experiences they can use in their daily work at their home institutions.

WINS is funded jointly through a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and direct funding from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) ESnet. WINS awardees are selected from a competitive application process which includes review by an external committee of leaders in the research and education networking community.

Funds from NSF and DOE provide WINS awardees travel support to participate in SCinet staging and set-up, which take place in the weeks leading up to the conference. The awardees continue their work during the entire week of the Supercomputing conference, when SCinet goes live for attendees to use for any networking need—from wireless Internet access to multi-gigabit demonstrations. At the conclusion of the conference, awardees then help tear down the entire infrastructure in approximately 48 hours.

After their hands-on experience at the SC conference, participants receive support to attend community conferences like the Quilt semi-annual member meeting, and regional network meetings such as the CENIC annual meeting, the Internet2 Global Summit, and the National Lab Information Technology (NLIT) meeting, among others. At these events, the WINS awardees participate in panel discussions to share their experiences and continue building their professional networks. This participation has resulted in increased awareness of and dialogue about the diversity gap that continues to persist in the IT community.

“WINS is a creative approach to the problem of increasing the number of talented network engineers, by developing the capabilities and vision of underrepresented female engineers through deep engagement in SCinet,” notes Kevin Thompson, program manager in the NSF’s Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, which provides WINS funding. “The project attacks a visible challenge in the production R&E networking community: gender diversity in the leadership and workforce. This effort will, at a minimum, significantly impact the careers of 15 women, and it has tremendous potential to do much more in the years ahead, especially if its sustainability approach succeeds.”

Innovations in Networking Awards are presented each year by CENIC to highlight the exemplary innovations that leverage ultra-high bandwidth networking, particularly where those innovations have the potential to transform the ways in which instruction and research are conducted or where they further the deployment of broadband in underserved areas.

Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research Program – Subawards RFP Status March 10, 2017

On March 8, 2017, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a $6.1 million, five-year award to accelerate fundamental research on wireless communication and networking technologies through the foundation’s Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program.

Through the PAWR Project Office (PPO), award recipients US Ignite, Inc. and Northeastern University will collaborate with NSF and industry partners to establish and oversee multiple city-scale testing platforms across the United States. The PPO will manage nearly $100 million in public and private investments over the next seven years.

Within the next four months, the PPO will develop a Request for Proposals (RFP) calling for teams of communities and research universities to propose the design, development, deployment, and initial operations of multiple platforms for advanced wireless research across the country.
If your organization is interested in responding to the RFP when it is released, go to the PAWR website and click on “Get Involved”.

About the RFP Process:

  • The PPO anticipates re-issuing the RFP annually on an as-needed basis and subject to the availability of funds to reflect the nature of the contributions from the PAWR Industry Consortium and planned investment by NSF. It is anticipated that the PPO will have annual deadlines for submission during each of the first three years (i.e., 2017, 2018, and 2019).
  • Each year, following receipt of proposals in response to the RFP, the PPO will run a merit review process, comparable to that of NSF, to evaluate the submitted proposals.
  • The awardees of the RFP will be selected based on the merit review process, in consultation with NSF and the PAWR Industry Consortium.
  • Selected awardees of the RFP will be sub-awardees of the PPO.
  • The announcement of the subawardees for the first research platforms is anticipated early next year (2018). The location(s) of the platform(s) will be announced at that time.
  • It is anticipated that the first set of platforms for advanced wireless research will be available for use by late 2019 or early 2020.