Storage Informer
Storage Informer

The Best Stuff on Earth is not limited to beverage manufacturing

by on May.22, 2009, under Storage

The Best Stuff on Earth is not limited to beverage manufacturing

I was reminded to cite some of the good stuff that is out there, on which I am involved and/or rely, as well as to solicit references to your good stuff.

The week-long SC summer workshops are focused on undergraduate computational science education. Computational science where a scientist/expert makes sure a right problem is being solved, a mathematician makes sure the mathematical model is correct, and a computer scientist makes sure the mathematical model will be efficient. Ideally we can train individuals to have all these perspectives in one head; physicists are the poster children for this kind of person. Bob Panoff and friends from the National Computational Science Institute (NCSI) have helped fashion me and hundreds of others, for which I will forever be grateful.

This summer we have workshops focused on many topics: "Introduction to Computational Thinking", "Parallel Programming and Cluster Computing", "Computational Biology for Biology Educators", "Computational Chemistry for Chemistry Educators", "Computational Engineering for Engineering Educators", and "Computational Thinking in the Grades 6-12 Classroom". More info is at

Political punk rock has affected us in many unexpected ways. Software design patterns has its well known "Gang of Four": Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson and John Vlissides. I have also been part of a lesser known, but also quite active, "Gang of Four", with Paul Gray, Charlie Peck, and Dave Joiner. We are part of the SC07-12 Education steering committee. We also created ACME (A Computationally Mobile Environment) for the undergraduate classroom to support content-rich hardware, software, and curricula.

The hardware, LittleFe, is an airplane-checkable 6-node portable Beowulf cluster, which you can build from off-the-shelf parts for under $3000. It creates quite the stir wherever we take it, especially when we power up four of them in an airport.

The software is BCCD (Bootable Cluster CD). It is not only a Linux on a CD; not only a Linux cluster on a CD; it also has integrated applications, tools, and working source code examples for the classroom. Its real trick is to transform a PC based lab into a working computational cluster in 10&aposs of seconds. The BCCD does all this without touching the hard drive. In more than one geek store, I have witnessed Paul Gray, not laughing or chortling, but making an almost unvoiced sound, gleefully leaping from machine to machine booting up the BCCD. It&aposs just that easy.

A super extra plus is that the BCCD can also be "liberated" onto a LittleFe hard drive to provide the same tools and interface, which is a real teaching plus. It also simplifies system administration of the LittleFe, and the common software stack allows us to work towards supporting a constellation of LittleFes, a stellar idea.

The third component of ACME is CSERD (Computational Science Education Reference Desk) is a great repository of curricula and is also part of NSDL (National Science Digital Library). A nice part of CSERD is the independent verification, validation, and accreditation of entries. Verification demonstrates a logically correct model following from physical and mathematical laws. Validation demonstrates a model correctly predicting results. Accreditation demonstrates the educational purpose of the model was achieved.

You can count on the gems surfacing via this blog ending up both on the BCCD, as well as in CSERD.

HPC University is a virtual organization launched in 2007, by a whole bunch of my friends, focused on high-quality, high-performance computing learning and workforce development activities and resources.

The final hunk of good stuff that occurs to me is TechTools the brainchild of Dan Garcia of UCB teaching fame. Tech stands for Technology that Educators of Computing Hail, and it certainly stands strong. I have barely started mining the good stuff I plan to use with my teaching.

On what goodies do you rely in your college and university teaching? What stuff might you suggest to us teachers?

… Tom


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