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NSF Sponsors Women Engineers for SCinet Buildout at SC16

SC16The Networking at SC (WINS) program officially launched today. Funded through a grant from the NSF and ESnet, the program sponsors eight career women in the research and education network community to participate in the build out and live operation of SCinet. As a high-performance network, SCinet supports large-scale computing demonstrations at SC16, the premier international conference on high performance computing, networking, data storage and data analysis and is attended by over 10,000 of the leading minds in these fields.

(Left to Right) Julia Locke (LANL), Debbie Fligor (SC15 WINS returning participant, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Jessica Schaffer (Georgia Tech), Indira Kassymkhanova (LBNL), Denise Grayson (Sandia), Kali McLennan (Univ. of Oklahoma), Angie Asmus (CSU). Not in photo: Amber Rasche (N. Dakota State) and Julie Staats (CENIC).

SC16 WINS Participants (Left to Right) Julia Locke (LANL), Debbie Fligor (SC15 WINS returning participant, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Jessica Schaffer (Georgia Tech), Indira Kassymkhanova (LBNL), Denise Grayson (Sandia), Kali McLennan (Univ. of Oklahoma), Angie Asmus (CSU). Not in photo: Amber Rasche (N. Dakota State) and Julie Staats (CENIC).

This week, selected participants from across the country are headed to Salt Lake City, the site of the 2016 conference to begin laying the groundwork for SCinet inside the Salt Palace Convention Center. The WINS participants join over 250 volunteers that make up the SCinet engineering team and will work side by side with the team and their mentors to put the network into full production service when the conference begins on November 12. The women will return to Salt Lake City a week before the conference to complete the installation of the network.

“We are estimating that SCinet will be outfitted with a massive 3.5 Terabits per second (Tbps) of bandwidth for the conference and will be built from the ground up with leading edge network equipment and services (even pre-commercial in some instances) and will be considered the fastest network in the world during its operation,” said Corby Schmitz, SC16 SCinet Chair.

The WINS participants will support a wide range of technical areas that comprise SCinet’s incredible operation, including wide area networking, network security, wireless networking, routing, network architecture and other specialties.

While demand for jobs in IT continues to increase, the number of women joining the IT workforce has been on the decline for many years,” said Marla Meehl, Network Director from UCAR and co-PI of the NSF grant. “WINS aims to help close this gap and help to build and diversify the IT workforce giving women professionals a truly unique opportunity to gain hands-on expertise in a variety of networking roles while also developing mentoring relationships with recognized technical leaders.”

Funds are being provided by the NSF through a $135,000 grant and via direct funding from ESnet supported by Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) in DOE Office of Science. Funding covers all travel expenses related to participating in the setup and operation of SCinet and will also provide travel funds for the participants to share their experiences at events like The Quilt Member Meetings, Regional Networking Member meetings, and the DOE National Lab Information Technology Annual Meeting.

Not only is WINS providing hands-on engineering training to the participants but also the opportunity to present their experiences with the broader networking community throughout the year. This experience helps to expand important leadership and presentations skills and grow their professional connections with peers and executives alike,” said Wendy Huntoon, president and CEO of KINBER and co-PI of the NSF grant.

Several WINS participants hard at work with their mentors configuring routers & switches

Several WINS participants hard at work with their mentors configuring routers & switches

The program also represents a unique cross-agency collaboration between the NSF and DOE. Both agencies recognize that the pursuit of knowledge and science discovery that these funding organizations support depends on bringing the best ideas from people of various backgrounds to the table.

Bringing together diverse voices and perspectives to any team in any field has been proven to lead to more creative solutions to achieve a common goal,” says Lauren Rotman, Science Engagement Group Lead, ESnet. “It is vital to our future that we bring every expert voice, every new idea to bear if our community is to tackle some of our society’s grandest challenges from understanding climate change to revolutionizing cancer treatment.”

Source: ESnet

See our complete coverage of SC16, which takes place Nov. 13-18 in Salt Lake City.

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