Plugged In

The Atlantic Computational Excellence Network (ACEnet) has a new staff and is well underway to getting Atlantic Canada's first high performance computing (HPS) facility up and running. Graham Mowbray was recently appointed executive director of ACEnet, along with chief technology officer, Mark Staveley and administrative officer, Debbie Earles. The new ACEnet team has begun the process of getting ACEnet set-up.

Memorial University is the lead institution of the partnership between the University of New Brunswick, Saint Mary's University, St. Francis Xavier University, Dalhousie University, Mount Allison University, and the University of Prince Edward Island. ACEnet was awarded $9.9 million by the Canada Foundation for Innovation in March 2004. When provincial and private sector contributions are finalized, the project will be worth nearly $28 million, including $3 million from the CFI Infrastructure Operating Fund. The group also expects to secure funding to support students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty to augment the scientific capacity of the institutions hosting significant ACEnet resources.

The new ACEnet team is (L-R) Debbie Earles, Graham Mowbray and Mark Staveley

Mr. Mowbray hopes ACEnet will encourage region-wide collaborations among researchers at all Atlantic Canadian universities by establishing several ACEnet Institutes founded around research themes such as computational chemistry, materials physics, and computer science. “ACEnet will create and operate HPC facilities to rival the best in Canada and the world,” said Mr. Mowbray. “These facilities will be interconnected by high-speed networks, allowing them to behave as a single, regionally distributed ‘computational power grid' of enormous capacity.” All infrastructure will be installed at the four host institutions, Memorial, UNB, St. Francis and St. Mary's and will be available to researchers at all seven partner universities. Mr. Mowbray believes an important strength of ACEnet is the active involvement of its science directorate. Dr. Mark Whitmore of Memorial championed the project in the early days and now Dr. Robert Deupree of Saint Mary's is the primary investigator and chair of the science directorate.

Scientific guidance for ACEnet also comes from Dr. David Clarke of Saint Mary's, Dr. John Whitehead of Memorial, Dr. Virendra Bhavsar of UNB and Dr. Peter Poole of St. FX. Mark Staveley, chief technology officer, is responsible for the technical implementation and operation this high performance computing facility. Reporting to the executive director and working closely with the administrative officer and ACEnet's Science Directorate, Mr. Staveley is responsible for overseeing all technical activities and operations.

“Our facilities will enable researchers throughout the region,” said Mr. Staveley. “Scientists will now have the resources they need, both people and equipment, to complete research that would otherwise not be able to be completed.” The ACEnet administrative officer coordinates the day-to-day administrative function for the ACEnet head office located at Memorial University. ACEnet will also create and operate sophisticated video-teleconferencing facilities to bind together our geographically dispersed research communities. For more on ACEnet, see www.ace-net.ca.