A High Performance Computing Cluster
Dedicated to the Energy Sciences
The Colorado School of Mines (CSM) has acquired and
maintains a high performance computing (HPC) cluster, RA.Mines.Edu,
bringing a new dimension of capability to research
in the energy sciences. RA is administered by the Golden Energy
Computing Organization (GECO). This facility is a national
hub for computational inquiries aimed at the discovery of
new ways to meet the energy needs of our society. As the performance
of leadership computing facilities continue to advance, it
will become increasingly vital to invest in such discipline
specific nodes to bridge between the top tier platforms and
This research was supported in part by the Golden Energy Computing
Organization at the Colorado School of Mines using resources acquired
with financial assistance from the National Science Foundation and
the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Intellectual Merit of HPC Activity
Seven key challenge topics have been chosen which have strong
local expertise and are poised to make significant advances
through the addition of the HPC cluster at CSM. The university
has collaborated with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory
(NREL) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR),
both within a few miles of CSM, to identify these thrust areas
and respective leaders. The seven research challenge topics
are described below, and each are being carried out by scientists
at the top of their field from CSM, NREL and NCAR. All projects
include team members who perform experimental inquiries synergistic
with the computational objectives. The investigations cross
several disciplines and target technological payoffs with
time scales from several months to several decades.
Broader Impacts Resulting from the HPC Activity
The seven initial projects, while important on their own,
will continue to catalyze the development of a culture of HPC inquiry
in the energy sciences and resulting in a more ambitious
institutional research horizon. Unified in energy theme, shared
facilities, student education and training, joint presentations,
and interactions with research support staff, these challenge
topics create a campus culture in energy-focused HPC
that will have a broader societal impact than the discoveries
associated with any individual investigation. The facility
promotes activities which cross disciplinary lines to
foster links between education, scientific inquiry and
industrial pursuits bringing together scientists and engineers
that cover a broad spectrum of energy-related research. National
efforts to discover and develop new sources of energy have been
positively impacted by the creation of this GECO cluster.
The new GECO cluster is an integral part of a recently
approved five-year program between Engineering Physics and
Computational and Applied Mathematics, wherein physics undergraduates
complete an M.S. degree focused on scientific computing. An
analogous program will be instituted for Petroleum Engineering,
and a Ph.D. minor in High Performance Computing is planned.
In order to better serve the Denver industrial sector, a Professional
Certificate in High Performance Computing will also be created.
Finally, the new facility will enable CSM to implement a training
program in HPC maintenance—viewed by the faculty as
a critical aspect of HPC education.
A multi-faceted outreach program has been established to maximize
the benefit of the GECO facility to underrepresented groups.
Salish Kootenai College, on the Flathead Indian Reservation,
is a partner in this activity. The interaction is intended
to enhance the educational experience of students in their
recently established B.S. degree in Computer Engineering.