Dear MIT research staff, postdocs, and graduate students,
I am writing to tell you about the new MIT Office for Research Computing and Data (ORCD). As ORCD’s inaugural head, my aim is to reach all of the research computing stakeholders across the Institute to ensure they know about this important new resource, and this message constitutes the first step in doing that.
The MIT research community consists of approximately 11,600 researchers – faculty, research staff, postdocs, and graduate students. In the spring of this year, Vice President for Research Maria Zuber announced the formation of ORCD to provide support for the research community, and asked me to lead the effort.
My vision for ORCD has three elements: providing access to a basic level of high performance research computing1 resources for all members of the research community at no charge; working with principal investigators (PIs) to support their specialized high performance research computing needs; and developing and deploying consulting support for our users to effectively use MIT’s computational and data resources, as well as for administrators who purchase computing and data resources.
ORCD will build on the Research Computing Project, led for the last 10 years by Dr. Chris Hill. Thanks to Chris, MIT already has substantial high performance computational and data resources available to the research community both on the premises and via the cloud (AWS, Azure, and Google). ORCD will work to ensure that everyone in the research community knows how to access these resources and has the necessary support to use them effectively. Over time, we aim to consolidate access to all our resources through one common portal.
Collectively, you form the main user group of the high performance research computational and data infrastructure ORCD plans to build and manage. In some research groups, you also do most of the high performance computer purchasing. ORCD wants to support you in both roles. For users, we will develop consulting services and materials for our specific infrastructure and will partner with the Schwarzman College and relevant departments to support subjects offered under the Common Ground for Computing Education. In your roles as purchasers, ORCD will help you with purchasing decisions that make the best use of available funds and MIT resources.
We are holding weekly office hours on Fridays from 10:00 a.m.– 11:00 a.m. for you to meet with ORCD staff so we can begin to understand MIT’s computing big picture. Please sign up with Christina Andujar, email@example.com, if you would like to attend. You also may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and Executive Director James Cuff at email@example.com. And you can sign up for our mailing list and other announcements at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MIT succeeds when we make long term commitments to important resources and I believe ORCD will become one of them. We have started a big adventure.
Thomas A. Frank (1977) Professor of Physics
1 High performance research computing and data consists of shared computational clusters under MIT management and does not include work stations, laptops, or single or few processors machines.