People - Written by on June 30, 2014

OLCF Displays How Science Works for America at DC Event

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Robert French, HPC Support Specialist at the OLCF, left, discusses the functions of TinyTitan with a visitor to the NUFO exhibition for the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington June 10. At right is OLCF Director of Industrial Partnerships Suzy Tichenor.

Scientific Visualizations, TinyTitan Highlight OLCF’s Presence at NUFO

Three industry-related visualizations featuring high-impact science research produced at Oak Ridge National Laboratory were on display in Washington, DC, earlier this month.

These specific visualizations, created at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) were highlighted at the fourth annual National User Facility Organization (NUFO) science expo and reception. The event, held at the Rayburn House Office Building, provided an opportunity for user facilities to tell the story of how the research completed at each location has long-lasting impacts for the nation.

“Over the years, Congress has prioritized these unique scientific user facilities so that they are available for U.S. Industry, universities, national laboratories, and federal agencies, based on the merit and impact of the proposed projects,” said OLCF Director of Science Jack Wells.

“It is very important that our user facility community take advantage of NUFO as a prime venue to communicate to Congress the impact of what their policies have created.   The opportunity to have face-to-face communication with policy makers is invaluable.”

Suzy Tichenor, OLCF director of industrial partnerships, added, “NUFO is a terrific, ‘hands on’ event that helps Congress and their staff better appreciate the enormous scientific contribution made to the nation by user facilities like the OLCF.”

The OLCF partnered with the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) to host a booth spotlighting their research projects. A 13-minute video featuring three OLCF and three ALCF visualizations greeted expo visitors, including US representatives, House staffers, and other key personnel.

The OLCF visualizations, produced by Mike Matheson, computer visualization specialist, highlighted three industry-related scientific research projects. One focused on the research of GE computational scientist Masako Yamada and showed simulations of freezing water, which can help engineers design wind turbine blades that are able to better withstand cold climates.

A second visualization showed how Ramgen Power Systems used computations at the OLCF to simulate equipment that will achieve carbon sequestration at a significantly lower cost than that offered by conventional equipment.

In the third clip attendees learned that supercomputing simulations at the OLCF enabled SmartTruck Systems engineers to develop their UnderTray system. The system, featured in the visualization, dramatically improves aeroefficiency, substantially increasing fuel mileage in long-haul trucks.

Tichenor said the industry focus fit perfectly with the nature of the event.

“NUFO gave us an opportunity to showcase how the OLCF is advancing the nation’s competitiveness by helping industry solve complex, competitively important problems through access to our systems and expertise,” she said. “Many of our booth visitors were unaware that industry is permitted to access our powerful collection of tools and talent or that the user facilities provide an environment for public-private collaboration.”

Another component of the OLCF booth was a demonstration of TinyTitan. OLCF HPC Support Specialists Robert French and Adam Simpson were on hand to walk visitors through the demonstration of the portable, nine-core unit designed for use in educational programs. French and Simpson were part of the team, which also included Suzanne Parete-Koon and Anthony DiGirolamo, that developed TinyTitan.

“We had strong interaction with Congressional staffers. Several of them thanked us for clarifying how high-performance computing works and how it impacts science,” French said.

Simpson added, “What stood out to me was the ability of TinyTitan to capture the interest of everyone, from those with no high-performance computing experience at all up to seasoned supercomputer users. Those new to HPC left with a much better understanding of how supercomputing works, and those already familiar with the basics were very interested in the specifics of the TinyTitan hardware and software.

“It was also great to be able to draw in crowds with TinyTitan and then transition into the science that gets done by researchers on Titan. Most attendants left with a much better understanding of the type of work that gets done on.”