2014 OSG User School Report

The 2014 OSG User School was held at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW-Madison) on July 7–10. This year we hosted 25 participants, mostly graduate students from a wide variety of programs around the United States and Puerto Rico, including physics, biology, chemistry, engineering, entomology (a first for the OSG User School), statistics and food science. Generally, participants were selected by demonstrating a real need for large-scale computing and by being in a position to transform their scholarly work through computation. In addition, the OSG’s own Emelie Harstad (User Support) and Vince Neal (GOC) joined the School to enhance their understanding of the OSG ecosystem from a user perspective. The instructors this year were Greg Thain (UW–Madison), Igor Sfiligoi (University of California, San Diego), Lauren Michael (UW–Madison), Lincoln Bryant (University of Chicago) and Tim Cartwright (UW–Madison).

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This year’s curriculum retained its focus on hands-on practice with a wide variety of user tools, providing a solid grounding for advanced and theoretical topics later in the School, as well as further learning afterward. Topics carried over from last year included running jobs locally (with HTCondor) and remotely (with a glide-in pool), running workflows (with DAGMan), grid security, using distributed storage, dealing with real resources, troubleshooting, and figuring out resource needs for real workflows. This year, we added a review of the myriad ways to connect to OSG, focusing on using OSG Connect in particular. Every participant left the School with at least two ways to run jobs – an account on a UW–Madison HTCondor submit node and an OSG Connect account – so continued access is possible for all.

We have yet to analyze participant surveys in detail, but informally it is clear that the School was a success again. Participants were happy with the program, with how much they learned, and with the new paths that are now open to them. And based on talking to a number of the participants since the end of the School, it seems that many of them have started, or will soon start, to apply their new skills to existing and new projects back at their home institutions. We will continue to follow up with them and hope to report on interesting developments at a later date.