NSF workshop on strengthening Large Facility cyberinfrastructure

Published on October 9, 2019


Workshop attendees listened to talks and panel discussions on improving NSF-funded cyberinfrastructure.


The National Science Foundation would like to upscale their investment in cyberinfrastructure (CI), but to do that the existing CI at Large Facilities (LFs) need to find ways to work together more closely. To that end, NSF held a workshop on Connecting Large Facilities and Cyberinfrastructure September 16 and 17, 2019, in Alexandria, Virginia.

A majority of the NHERI facilities were represented. Attendees listened to talks on “Building LF CI Communities,” a pilot “Cyberinfrastructure Center of Excellence,” panels on “The State and Future of CI,” “Shared CI Services Opportunities and Challenges” and “Workforce Development and Retention.” Attendees also participated in several breakout sessions to pull ideas and concerns from all LF and CI participants.

The formation of a CI Center of Excellence (COE) and the services it may be able to offer Large Facilities in the future was welcome news to NHERI participants. Certainly, NHERI’s DesignSafe-CI offers a tremendous service to NHERI experimental facilities and users. But there is still a need for dedicated CI staff at each site. The COE could offer guidelines and best practices, regulatory/security guidance, and consulting/staffing resources that could enable a more efficient, state-of-the-art CI at each of the EFs for lower cost to the EF by leveraging COE resources.

As we know, having well-trained CI staff is critical to the mission of each LF. Joseph Wartman, PI of the NHERI RAPID, was interested to learn that many LFs share similar IT-related issues, such as retaining personnel in hot job markets. “It was good to hear how other LFs address these concerns,” he said.

Jennifer Bridge, NHERI researcher from the University of Florida, was interested to learn about the potential help a COE can provide. She also appreciated discussions about where facility CI and user CI begin and end, and about ownership and responsibility for EF-generated data. “Overall, it was a good and useful experience,” she said.

NHERI attendees also benefited from the opportunity to meet and interact face-to-face. Conversations outside of the workshop sessions are another useful way to learn how other EFs tackle similar problems. We look forward to further collaborations in the CI field.