Conference Paper

Community Outreach and the Discovery HPC Cluster: An Analysis of User Profiles and Growth

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High Performance Computing (HPC) clusters can serve as a catalyst for university research by providing powerful computational resources. Equilibrium between available computing resources and user demand is a prerequisite for an economical and efficient HPC cluster. While use of the New Mexico State University HPC cluster, Discovery, is growing, there are still many users that do not know that the cluster exists. Moreover, researchers are often hesitant to start using Discovery, as learning how to use the command line or job scheduler can be intimidating. Inefficient or erroneous cluster use is often rooted in a lack of user training, potentially dawdling staff due to troubleshooting, and therefore further deterring users from using the HPC. The Discovery team raises campus awareness through outreach and offers timely guidance to prospective users of the system. Campus outreach aims to educate and attract new HPC users through a variety of methods. These include advertising Discovery directly to faculty and graduate students, teaching undergraduate students how to use the HPC as part of their coursework, promoting the system at university technology demonstrations, and hosting campus workshops. The goal of the research is to assess impact of outreach activities on Discovery use. Further, the Discovery team seeks to better understand prospective users, both in terms of their areas of expertise and previous HPC knowledge. The research findings hold implications for shaping future outreach efforts and increasing campus HPC utilization.

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