Spring 2011

Think of the world’s most complex issues… world hunger, global climate, galaxy formation, natural disasters (like hurricanes), man-made disasters (like oil spills), diseases (like cancer), and the list goes on. These are some the key science problems of our generation, and they all have one thing in common: high-performance computing. This is not the your average, run-of-the-mill high-performance computing. No, this involves powerful supercomputers and cadres of brilliant scientists creating one-of-a-kind groundbreaking software applications. A single job can keep thousands of processers humming for days or even weeks. Supercomputing has been vital to advances in science in recent decades (and to society in general - the Internet and many other IT advancements find their roots in the early days of supercomputing), but its importance is increasing every year.

Although high performance computing centers are increasingly important, we do not understand the management practices of such radically innovative centers. Nick Berente, an assistant professor in Terry’s MIS department, is investigating the management of supercomputing centers. Might these radically innovative organizations give us insight into tactics for innovating on a less extreme scale? Further, since high-performance computing organizations are reaching a scale that has not been seen before for such scientific endeavors, how can professional management help improve outcomes?

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $300,000 grant to Dr. Berente to look into these questions. Jennifer Claggett, a second-year MIS PhD student, has joined him in exploring high-performance computing centers across the country – including those in Georgia.