2007/06/01

SeWHiP Computing Workshop

The Southeast Wisconsin High Performance (SeWHiP) Computing Workshop held today in Milwaukee brought together an interesting mix of academic researchers, university research and IT administrators and a few other categories of people interested in high performance computing (HPC).

After a short overview of the status of HPC in southeast Wisconsin and in Milwaukee in particular, Craig Struble talked about the NSF (National Science Foundation) proposal that he and Lars Olson are putting together for a multi-institutional HPC regional center. Craig asked for input from all the workshop attendees regarding what the HPC needs and resources are, then concluded the formal part of the workshop. Attendees mingled throughout the room, writing comments and suggestions on the flipcharts, as well as greeting friends and meeting new people.

Justin Kruger and I participated in the workshop primarily because of the FireSeed Streaming Supercomputer (FS3) project. As the FS3 project moves forward, the people and organizations at the workshop are both resources and customers for the project. By participating in the workshop, Justin and I were able to both hear about what others are doing in the HPC arena and to let them know what the FS3 project is all about.

During the informal discussion and networking at the end of the workshop, I was able to meet some interesting new connections from the Milwaukee area. One person I met from UW Milwaukee is working on some intriguing innovations, one of which will hopefully lead to a really fun collaboration project for Abba Makolin Waldron & Associates, LLC (AMW).

The project involves motion and stress measurement in a flexible sensor environment. This could be a really cool project incorporating 1) the sensing system being developed by the UW Milwaukee individual 2) a material involved in a project AMW is currently working on, 3) a nanofiber nonwoven technology which is the foundation of the AMW NF Nonwovens business plan which is a finalist in the 2007 Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest and 4) production of an interesting new material at the NanoStatics facility in Ohio. Communicating between all the people and organizations potentially involved in this project will be one huge challenge, but the project will be so fun, innovative and rewarding that there's no way I can let it just pass quietly by.

On the drive back from Milwaukee to Appleton after the workshop I thought about the project, mentally compiling a list of things that need to be done. All the parties need to understand the project and make a reasonable decision about whether to move forward and dedicate resources to the project.

If you find yourself spending long hours working on projects or assignments that are uninteresting to you or that don't seem worthwhile, try participating in a few workshops or meetings for topics in which you are highly interested. While at those gatherings, make a point of talking to some of the leaders of the meeting, some of the speakers and other meeting attendees. You'll definitely find fun projects that need people to work on them.

My main challenge is that there are too many interesting projects to work on and not enough time or money....

*****

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