Supercomputing in Pennsylvania

With Commonwealth of Pennsylvania support, PSC provides education, consulting, advanced network access and computational resources to scientists and engineers, teachers and students across the state

Our Region’s Business:
to Outcompete You Must Outcompute

In March, Cheryl Begandy, PSC director of education, outreach and training, who coordinates PSC’s programs in Pennsylvania, appeared on the TV show ”Our Region’s Business“ with Pittsburgh journalist Bill Flanagan (left).

Mike Makowski (third from left) of PPG and Jay McClatchey of Applied Computational Technologies (ACT) in Windber, Pennsylvania joined Begandy. Makowski brought along PPG transition lens sunglasses and self-washing windowglass, products developed through quantum-theory based computing at PSC. McClatchey discussed ACT’s reliance on PSC intellectual resources in their work developing next-generation radiation dose calculation for cancer therapy (see p. 44). Drawing from studies by the Council on Competitiveness, a Washington, DC organization of business, labor, academic and governmental leaders, Begandy summed up her message as “To outcompete you must outcompute.”

Discover 10: PSC Open House

In March PSC held its second annual Open House. With the theme “Innovation through Collaboration,” the event drew more than 80 attendees, including student groups from regional schools and universities, and representatives from industry, government and foundations. In the photo, PSC executive director Dave Moses is talking with a group of students from La Roche College in Pittsburgh.


Art Wetzel, PSC principal computer scientist, collaborated with David Bear of Carnegie Mellon's Studio for Creative Inquiry in creating the first “Pittsburgh Gigapanorama.” This interactive, 360-degree portrait of southwest Pennsylvania as seen from the roof of the U.S. Steel Tower was unveiled on April 22. At print resolution, the image would be 50 feet high by 285 feet long, bigger than any screen could accommodate. Bear and his colleagues enlisted Wetzel for his expertise in data-intensive visualization, and Wetzel used his 8-processor 64-Gig RAM system to help manage, adjust and assemble the full image files.

K-12 Science Education

With K-12 educational and outreach programs (see pp. 7-9), PSC helps to prepare technology-ready workers and a science-literate populace. PSC workshops this year trained 144 science teachers in 40 Pennsylvania school districts.

Along with its workshops, PSC in January hosted 15 juniors and their mentors from McKeesport High School, providing an enrichment session for the McKeesport Administrative Academy, a program to help students improve their math scores. PSC staff introduced computational modeling and explored concepts such as probability, random numbers and data analysis. “The dedication of the PSC staff to opening a new world to both students and teachers through their computational tools and simulations,” said Timothy M. Gabauer, district superintendent of the McKeesport Area School District, “has made an indelible mark on the teaching andlearning process.”

Two PSC staff members now serve on Occupational Advisory Committees (OACs) for the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ new Science and Technology Academy. The OACs recommend improvements and provide assistance to assure up-to-date curriculum. At the 2010 Pittsburgh S.T.E.M. Summit organized by the Pittsburgh Technology Council, PSC staff participated in a panel titled “Connecting Today’s Students with Tomorrow’s Careers.” This half-day event highlighted ways that the region’s technology industry can affect educational change to address workforce shortages in STEM fields.

Community Outreach

PSC staff take part in numerous outreach programs, locally and nationally. In March at the Carnegie Science Center, PSC exhibited at the 2010 SciTech Initiative. PSC’s booth — visited by more than 400 attendees — presented materials on the theme “What is supercomputing and how is it used?” PSC staff also supported local science education by serving as judges for regional science and technology fairs. In March, four staff members judged projects for the Pennsylvania Computer Fair. Later in March, three staff members helped judge the annual Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair in which over 1000 students took part.

Private-Sector & University Research

Research by scientists in Pennsylvania supported by PSC is exemplified by several projects in this booklet:

  • Asking “What If?” About H1N1: PSC scientist Shawn Brown and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health MIDAS Center of Excellence (p. 20).
  • It Knows What You’re Thinking: fMRI and Noun Meaning, Tom Mitchell and colleagues, Carnegie Mellon University (p. 24).
  • The Joy of Giving: Modeling Private Donation to Charitable Organizations, Holger Sieg, University of Pennsylvania (p. 45).
  • The Right Dose: New Technologies for Dose Calculation in Radiation Treatment of Cancer, Applied Computational Technologies (p. 44).

Research & Training at Pennsylvania Companies, Colleges & Universities, 2009-2010

From July 2001 through June 2010, PSC workshops in high-performance computing reaches 122 Pennsylvania grad and undergrad students, and PSC provided nearly 12.5 million processor hours to 864 individual Pennsylvania researchers from 35 institutions. The following Pennsylvania universities and colleges used PSC resources during this period:

Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
Allegheny General Hospital
Allegheny-Singer Research Institute
Bloomsburg university of Pennsylvania
Bryn Mawr College
Bucknell University
Cabrini College
Carnegie Mellon University
Cedar Crest College
Chatham College
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania
Drexel University
Duquesne University
Fund Science
Haverford College
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
(all campuses)
Lehigh University
Lock Haven University
Pennsylvania State University (all campuses)
Phillips Respironics
Robert Morris University
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
Slippery Rock University
Temple University
Thomas Jefferson University
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh (all campuses)
Ursinus College
Villanova University
Waynesburg College
Wilkes University