Progress Update on the Development and Implementation of the Advanced CI-REF VR Program

Wed 25 July 2018 by Dr. Dirk Colbry

ACI-Ref Buiding Picture

Henry Neeman did a great job presenting our paper on Progress Update for the CI-REF VR Program at PEARC18.

Writing of this paper was truly a unique experience for me. The entire paper was written virtually over weekly video conference meetings and included the thirteen sited (maximum) authors and I think dozens of other contributors. Henry does an amazing job coordinating this army of people, soliciting their input and giving them opportunities to learn. I am looking forward to the ACI-Ref Virtual Residency workshop in a couple of weeks so I can see everyone again in person.

Below is a summary:

Description: Cyberinfrastructure facilitation -- working directly with researchers to advance the computing-intensive and data-intensive aspects of their investigations, especially via large-scale and advanced computing -- has emerged as a crucial component of research computing processes. However, because no national formal education curriculum exists to cultivate the needed workforce, informal education is the most viable approach. The Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Research and Education Facilitator (ACI-REF) Virtual Residency (VR) program, in operation since summer 2015, is a national informal education program that trains Cyberinfrastructure (CI) Facilitators on effective methods for serving their research and education constituents, especially focusing on professional (soft) skills (because much of the technical content that facilitators need is available via other opportunities). The VR consists primarily of (a) summer weeklong intensive workshops that provide both content and experiences in facilitation, (b) biweekly conference calls that expand upon both the kinds of topics introduced in the workshops and additional content and experiences, (c) meetings at national conferences and (d) a grant proposal writing apprenticeship. Future plans focus on extending the VR model to intermediate and advanced levels, as well as disseminating a "train-the-trainers-of-trainers" approach to teaching other organizations to conduct their own VR activities within their own CI Facilitator communities, in order to expand the VR's scale, scope, and reach. The VR program and its offshoots have already served 364 CI professionals at 188 institutions across the US and internationally. Virtual Residents are positioned to advance to the intermediate level and beyond, and ultimately to become institutional and national CI leaders.