Nationwide Supercomputing Education Project

The rapid introduction of supercomputing technologies in everyday practice sets crucially new tasks for Higher Education system. It requires an extensive training of not only computing-competent users, but specialists in Parallel Computations and Supercomputing Technologies.

The Russian Federation Presidential Commission on the modernization and technological development of Russian economy Project “Formation of Highly Qualified Supercomputing Technology and Software, Specialist Training System” is now complete. The idea of the project was proposed by Rector of Lomonosov Moscow State University, academician Sadovnichy V.A. in 2009. The project was granted an immediate approval by the President of the Russian Federation D.A. Medvedev and planned for the period of 2010 — 2012. Under the project, the program to create a complete system of Russian Supercomputing Education was formed for the first time.

The strategic project objective is the formation of a nationwide highly qualified Supercomputing Technology and Software specialist training system.

The main executives of the project are:

  • Lomonosov Moscow State University,
  • Lobachevsky Nizhny Novgorod State University,
  • Tomsk State University,
  • South Ural State University,
  • St.Petersburg State University of IT, Mechanics and Optics,
  • Southern Federal University,
  • Far Eastern Federal University,
  • Far Eastern Federal University,
  • Moscow Physical and Technical Institute,
  • the members of the Supercomputing Consortium of Russian Universities.

The nationwide system of Research and Education Centers for Supercomputing Technologies (REC SCT), incorporating all Russian Federal Districts, formed the basis for the successful implementation of the project. The main objective of the Russian REC SCT system is efficient organization of higher educational institutions activity for the SCT specialists training, retraining and skill development. As a result of the project completion, by the end of 2012 the REC SCT system incorporated 8 regional REC, founded in 7 Russian Federal Districts.

The major tasks for the created REC SCT system
are:

  • specialists training, retraining and skill development in the priority and prospective SCT and Software directions;
  • efficiency improvement of scientific research;
  • innovative activity in scientific and academic
    areas in collaboration with science, industry
    and business.

The most significant constituent that determines the project content is the development of the Composite Set (Body) of Knowledge and Skills (professional competencies) in Supercomputing Technologies. These are the competencies every student must have upon graduating from a corresponding faculty or a course, completing a retraining program or training in special groups. It is the Body of Knowledge that shows how an educational process must be organized and what particular subjects it must be based on. The main aspect of the Body of Knowledge is the description of the subject area “Supercomputers and Parallel Computing” to clearly define what to train and how to organize the process of training for each target-oriented group of trainees. The structure of the created Body of Knowledge is consistent with the recommendations of the international professional communities ACM and IEEE Computer Society.

Based on the developed Body of Knowledge in the field of supercomputing technologies proposals on expanding the Russian third generation Federal State Educational Standards have been formed on the following specialities for profound study of Supercomputing Technologies:

  • 010300 “Fundamental Informatics and Information Technologies”,
  • 010400 “Applied Mathematics and Informatics”,
  • 010100 “Mathematics”.

Proposals are made up on forming the curricula and skill development and advanced retraining programs and in the supercomputing technologies for enlarged groups of specialities and training directions:

  • 010000 “Physics and Mathematics”,
  • 230000 “Informatics and Computational Techniques”,
  • 090000 “Information Security”.

A complex program on the development and expert examination of educational and methodological literature in supercomputing technologies for the Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees Programs was successfully implemented. The series “Supercomputing Education”, created under the project, includes 26 monographs, textbooks and training manuals on the main sections of the Body of Knowledge in supercomputing technologies written by the leading Russian and foreign specialists. Up to 50 copies of the books in the series “Supercomputing Education” have been delivered to 43 Russian universities free of charge. In total, 31500 books of the series have been delivered to Russian universities during the project.

A very intensive work was carried out on the development of the new courses and extension of the existing ones: the materials of 50 courses, covering all main parts of the Body of Knowledge and Skills in the supercomputing technologies, are presented in the open access on the project site. All training courses underwent the academic-methodological commission expertise and received the approving resolution of the Academic-methodological Council on Applied mathematics, Informatics and Information technologies of Academic-methodological Associations of classical universities.

Under the project, a unique program of extensive entry-level SCT specialist training was implemented. This training program incorporated all Federal Districts of the REC SCT system and 60 Russian Schools of Higher Education – a total of 3269 specialists. In the majority of these Schools, the program was aimed to strengthen the foundation of the technical background and to develop mandatory parallel programming skills for the successful mastery of the SCT area.

Under the project, higher educational institution faculties’ skill development and advanced retraining programs (72 hours) were implemented in all Federal Districts involved in the REC SCT system. 453 teachers from over 50 Russian Schools of Higher Education successfully completed skill development and advanced retraining programs.

A highly complex component of the project – a target intensive training of the special groups in supercomputing technologies – was successfully implemented. 40 special groups were trained in 15 programs, each including not less than 72 academic hours. The training of the special groups was organized in all Federal Districts of REC SCT System. 790 trainees successfully graduated.

Distance learning technologies were widely used in the project. The entire 731 trainees from more than 100 cities of Russia and other countries got entry-level training in SCT using distance learning technologies via the Internet University of supercomputing technologies

Over the past years a system of main national supercomputing conferences has been formed:

  • International Scientific Conference “Parallel Computing Technology”
    Organizers: the Supercomputing Consortium of Russian Universities, the Russian Academy of Sciences
  • International Supercomputing Conference “Scientific Service & Internet”
    Organizers: the Supercomputing Consortium of Russian Universities, the Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Supercomputing Forum “Supercomputing Technologies in Education, Science and Industry”
    Founder: the Supercomputing Consortium of Russian Universities
  • Siberian Conference on Parallel and High Performance Computing
  • The system of supercomputing students schools was formed in Russia. It includes a number of activities organized by the Supercomputing Consortium of Russian Universities in the leading higher education institutions:

    • North (Arctic) Federal University (February),
    • St.Petersburg State Research University of IT, Mechanics and Optics (April),
    • Lomonosov Moscow State University (June-July),
    • Moscow Physical and Technical Institute (August),
    • Lobachevsky Nizhny Novgorod State University (November),
    • Tomsk State University (December).

    At present the school in Moscow State University is converted into the Summer Supercomputing Academy, which gathers more than 100 trainees for advanced training in supercomputing technologies every year.

    Scientific seminars on supercomputer technologies are held in each center of the REC SCT System. More than 1000 people took part in such seminars.

    Three almanacs “Supercomputing Technologies in Science, Education and Industry” containing more than 85 scientific and methodological materials were prepared in cooperation with the specialists from the RAS, as well as industry and business representatives.

    Under the project the international collaboration intensively developed, which shows the urgent need for the integration of Russian organizations into the international scientific and educational space. Three joint educational programs were developed in cooperation with the leading foreign universities. Within the REC SCT 57 leading foreign scientists were involved in the scientific and teaching activities. 65 agreements on the establishments of partnerships in the sphere of SCT were signed with foreign organizations. Three issues of the almanac “Supercomputing Education in the World” were prepared.

    A system of activities to popularize the achievements and prospects of supercomputing technologies was developed and implemented with mass media being involved. The system includes a wide range of activities: lectures in the “Academia” project on the TV channel “Culture”, publications in professional Internet journals, series of publications in the central and regional mass media, participation in conferences, festivals and exhibitions, excursions for schoolchildren to the Supercomputing Centers and others.

    The activities under the project were highly appreciated both in Russia and the world. For example, in 2011, the joint team of Lomonosov Moscow State University and Lobachevsky Nizhny Novgorod State University won the international competition for the development of training materials on parallel programming “Informatics Europe Curriculum Best Practices Award”. Also, great attention was paid to the presentations of the project on Russian participants` stands at the leading international supercomputing conferences “International Supercomputing Conference”(Germany) and “Supercomputing”(USA).

    The major current results of the project are constantly displayed on the pages of the dedicated Internet-center, which gradually becomes a national center for coordination of training and methodological activities in supercomputing technology in Russia.

    It is essential that all formed and executed activities gradually form holistic infrastructure to create specifically the system of training and reproducing highly qualified personnel in supercomputing technology and software. During 2010-2012 75 Schools of Higher Education were involved in the execution of the project.

    All tasks and indicators set for the project executors were fully implemented.

    The implementation of the Russian Federation Presidential Commission Project on the modernization and technological development of Russian economy “Formation of Highly Qualified Supercomputing Technology and Software Specialist Training System” resulted in forming the basis of supercomputer education system in Russia.

    However, the system needs developing and improving. Further objective must be to provide sustainable development of the national SCT and software specialist training system based on REC SCT infrastructure development, expansion of the educational program range to meet the needs of innovation economy and solve the problems in priority areas of science, engineering and technology, improvement of curricula and specialist training, retraining and skill development programs.

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