West Point Cadet Arrives at UAF

Fairbanks, Alaska - Shaun Baker isn't your usual kind of Alaska tourist. The West Point Military Academy Cadet arrived in Fairbanks last week to spend three weeks intensively learning about supercomputing in an academic environment.

Baker will be working with the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center at UAF as part of a coordinated effort by the Department of Defense's High Performance Computing Modernization Program to increase collaboration between military and academic research units.

The cadet will work with ARSC staff on a project to investigate portable high-density storage formats. Balancing the formats in which data is stored with the ability to move that data quickly and accurately is an extremely important part of supercomputing. Researchers at ARSC must be able to move and read the huge amounts of data they produce when using a supercomputer.

"Storage is an increasingly important aspect of using any type of computer, especially when storage must be handled for many users," said ARSC user consultant Jeff McAllister, who is Baker's project advisor. "Finding ways to reduce storage needs makes correspondingly bigger work feasible."

"Shaun is a great student to have the opportunity to host," said Barbara Horner-Miller, ARSC's associate director. "We are pleased to assist such promising talent in expanding his horizons and learning more about how an academic supercomputing center works."

Shaun Baker, a junior computer science major at West Point will spend the next weeks working on ARSC systems and learning from staff, researchers and other students. The program is optional for West Point cadets, and they are required to give up their leave time in order to participate.

"Each year the departments at West Point publish a list of Academic Individual Advanced Development opportunities," said Baker. "I didn't expect to be chosen for the ARSC appointment, but I signed up anyway because I liked the flexibility ARSC offered in my project, and I had always wanted to come to Alaska."

The cadet will also learn about life at a civilian university by living in the UAF dorms and spending time with other interns on campus.

This is the second summer ARSC has hosted West Point cadets since ARSC joined the program two years ago. ARSC is part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Department of Defense High Performance Computing and Modernization Program.

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