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New UNIX-based Laboratory Aids UW-NCAR Relationship

October 5, 2011 — In August, the University of Wyoming hosted its first joint workshop with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

More workshops are on the way.

To enhance high-performance computing capacity on the Laramie campus and strengthen its deepening relationship with NCAR, UW recently opened a UNIX-based laboratory inside Ross Hall. It is the first lab of its kind on campus to be installed and supported by UW Information Technology (IT).

The Myron B. Allen III High Performance Teaching and Computing Lab, named in honor of UW's current provost and former head of the university's Department of Mathematics, includes 16 computer stations equipped with UNIX-based operating systems required for high-performance computing.

"This lab is a key piece to our relationship with NCAR, because they need UNIX-based labs to be able to run some of their workshops," says Bryan Shader, special assistant to the vice president for research and economic development and UW's liaison with NCAR. "Every six months -- if not more frequently -- we'll be joining with NCAR to offer special workshops on high-performance and research computing."

NCAR's newest supercomputing facility is being built approximately 45 miles east of Laramie in the North Range Business Park near Cheyenne. The NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) is being developed in partnership with UW, the state of Wyoming, Cheyenne LEADS, the Wyoming Business Council and Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power. It will contain some of the world's most powerful supercomputers dedicated to improving scientific understanding of climate change, severe weather, air quality and other vital atmospheric science and geoscience topics.

The center also will house a premier data storage and archival facility that holds irreplaceable historical climate records and other information.

The NWSC is expected to be in operation by June 2012.

"Because this lab houses computers that use the UNIX operating system, it gives students a place where they can learn how to work in the standard environment for advanced scientific computing," says Allen. "Labs like this will be critical for teaching people how to scale innovative algorithms from the desktop computing environment to supercomputers, such as the one that will occupy the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center."

While Shader says naming the lab after Allen is fitting, particularly given his efforts to further the university's high-performance computing initiative, the provost credits his colleagues in the UW Department of Mathematics.

"I owe UW's math faculty -- past and present -- a huge debt for their unflagging support, starting with my first anxious days as an assistant professor in 1983," says Allen. "It's a privilege to call these men and women my colleagues."

Development of the lab was funded by IT and the UW offices of Academic Affairs and Research and Economic Development.

Myron Allen

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