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OSG User School 2015: A Big Success

The OSG User School 2015 was held on July 27–31 by the Center for High Throughput Computing (CHTC) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW–Madison). As usual, we hosted undergraduates, graduate students (the majority group), post-doctoral researchers, staff, and faculty from a variety of institutions and fields. Highlights this year included staff from the University of the Philippines, faculty from the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, an economist, two hydrologists, and an oceanographer. And thanks to the recruiting efforts of ACI-REF, we had a total of twelve participants from ACI-REF institutions, not counting UW–Madison. The instructors this year were Greg Thain (UW–Madison), Brian Lin (UW–Madison), Lauren Michael (UW–Madison), David Champion (University of Chicago), Christina Koch (UW–Madison), Lincoln Bryant (University of Chicago), and Miron Livny (UW–Madison). Also, most of the OSG User Support team traveled to Madison to help with the School and meet the participants, many of whom will become their customers.

OSG User School 2015 - group photo - 1073

Photo by David Champion, OSG User School 2015

One big change for this year was the expansion of the schedule from four to five days. The extra day was inserted into the middle of the schedule, on Wednesday, and included new material on preparing software for use in the OSG. That afternoon, participants were free to choose their own activities, which included tours of the university, the state capitol building, and a local Frank Lloyd Wright landmark, as well as one-on-one consulting and just plain relaxing. The remaining curriculum – with topics such as obtaining resources, running jobs (locally and remotely), preparing and running workflows, grid security, distributed storage, and dealing with real resources and their issues – was refined again this year. Participants left the School with accounts at CHTC and on OSG Connect, so they retain access to large-scale computing regardless of their home institution.

The other big change this year was the number of participants. Previously, the most applications received was 95 (in 2011) and this year it was a record-shattering 112. Thanks to additional funding from OSG, we were able to accommodate 54 participants, up from 25 last year and the previous peak of 31 in 2012. Due to the high number of applications, the participants who were selected this year were especially ready to learn a great deal of new material and skills, then able to apply that knowledge to their own research. So many of the participants are hard at work with high-throughput computing now that OSG plans one or more installments of its Research Highlights series devoted to brief reports on their work. All in all, the 2015 School was definitely a big success!

– Tim Cartwright