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 IU Trident Indiana University

Fall 2013 IU Virtual Student Internships contribute to undergraduate employment

Project Lead: Rich Knepper

Campus Bridging and Research Infrastructure, Systems Group, UITS Research Technologies

National Center for Genome Analysis Support, UITS Research Technologies

NSF Award # 1062432

REU Classroom Picture
Figure 1. Undergraduate intern candidates watch a presentation by NCGAS staff member Carrie Ganote

Virtual internships were offered by Indiana University’s UITS Research Technologies division for the first time in the fall 2013 semester. Potential intern candidates visited Indiana University for one week in the summer, to get first-hand experience and a behind the scenes look at IU’s data center and cyberinfrastructure. During their visit they were trained on software installation on various high performance computing systems across the country, which are part of the national cyberinfrastructure known as the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment.

Two undergraduate students from Clark State University in Ohio were chosen to participate in the new program which was funded by a supplemental grant from the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) program award (NSF Award #1062432). The student interns worked remotely, accessing the various systems to install, compile and run software to determine the fastest and most accurate runs. This experience allowed them to perform system administration activities using various high performance computing platforms and software packages. Richard Knepper, Manager of Campus Bridging and Research Infrastructure trained and monitored the interns work, acting as a training supervisor. The internships ended in December, 2013 and resulted in one of the interns securing a full-time job at Lockheed Martin at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. A new group of interns will be recruited for the fall 2014 semester to continue this successful partnership.

These virtual internships clearly demonstrate the value of hands-on training in high performance computing environments. Working with undergraduate students from colleges and universities without these environments allows not training but workforce development in information technology. This is a field sorely in need of skilled workers to fill the gap in the 21st century.