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Blue Waters Student Internship Program


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The NCSA Blue Waters project, in collaboration with Shodor, the National Computational Science Institute (NCSI), and national HPC programs, launched a coordinated effort to prepare current and future generations of students with the computational thinking skills, knowledge, and commitment to advance scientific computing through the use of high performance computing (HPC) resources and environments.

Petascale computing is more complex than previous computing paradigms. New approaches for teaching and learning are required, and no single educational institution has the expertise and experience needed to fully exploit this extraordinary capability.

NOTE TO APPLICANTS: THIS PROGRAM IS NO LONGER FUNDED.

What was the Blue Waters Student Internship Program?

Support was provided by the NSF-funded Blue Waters Project for sustained petascale computing to support year-long undergraduate internship experiences involving the application of high-performance computing to problems in the sciences, engineering, or mathematics. The program provided a student stipend totaling $5000, a two-week intensive Petascale Institute, an allocation on the Blue Waters supercomputer, and, for select students, travel to the Blue Waters Symposium.

This program provided support for undergraduate internship activities at any accredited degree-granting institution in the United States. The internships awarded through this program were for students working with a faculty mentor on their home campus, or at another campus. Interested faculty created an intern position and could specify a particular student for whom the position was intended, or could select a qualified applicant with Blue Waters support through our program.


Who participated in the Blue Waters Student Internship Program?

  • Undergraduate faculty who would like to mentor one or more undergraduate students in a year-long internship in the sciences, engineering, or mathematics that involves teaching or researching the use of high-performance computing in studying problems in these fields.
  • Undergraduate students interested in participating in a year-long STEM internship. Students had to be enrolled as undergraduates at a U.S. degree-granting institution throughout the duration of their participation in the program.
  • Students and faculty who are members of groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM were strongly encouraged to participate in the program; including, but not limited to, women, minorities, and persons with disabilities.
  • Beginning graduate students who have a research advisor were eligible to apply to attend the Petascale Institute and had their expenses covered by the program; any stipend would be the responsibility of their own research advisor.
  • Students were strongly encouraged to attempt to match themselves with a mentor and project before applying.


What were the expectations of participants?

Undergraduate interns were expected to:

  • Work with an assigned mentor in a year-long internship concluding by May 31(30 hours per week over the summer and around eight hours per week during the academic year)
  • Attend the entire two-week Petascale Institute at NCSA at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in late May / early June
  • Submit progress reports to the Blue Waters Student Internship Program Coordinators
  • Participate in surveys, interviews, and focus groups administered by the Blue Waters Student Internship Program evaluators
  • Consider submitting an abstract for a poster about their project work to the Blue Waters Student Internship Program Coordinators in the spring (select interns presented posters at the Blue Waters Symposium)
  • Submit a student paper to the Journal of Computational Science Education (JOCSE) by May 31

Faculty mentors were expected to:

  • Provide mentoring, guidance, and project supervision to the assigned intern in a year-long internship concluding by May 31 (interns were expected to work 30 hours per week over the summer and around eight hours per week during the academic year)
  • Add the assigned intern to an existing Blue Waters allocation or apply immediately for a Blue Waters Education allocation to support the intern's work
  • Ensure the intern attended the entire two-week Petascale Institute at NCSA at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in late May / early June
  • Ensure the intern submitted progress reports to the Blue Waters Student Internship Program Coordinators
  • Participate in surveys, interviews, and focus groups administered by the Blue Waters Student Internship Program evaluators
  • Ensure the intern considered submitting an abstract for a poster about their project work to the Blue Waters Student Internship Program Coordinators in the spring (select interns presented posters at the 2020 Blue Waters Symposium)
  • Ensure the intern submitted a student paper to the Journal of Computational Science Education (JOCSE) by May 31


How did faculty and students apply for the Blue Waters Student Internship Program?

For Faculty: By clicking the button at the top or bottom of this page, faculty created undergraduate internship positions they had available, indicating either that the position was intended for a particular student applicant or that it was open to qualified applicants.

What faculty needed to create a project proposal:

  • A title for the project
  • A summary of the project
  • A description of the work to be completed by the student
  • A description of how the project will make use of the Blue Waters supercomputer or other HPC resources
  • Name and email of student for which the project is proposed if the position is intended for a particular applicant
  • A list of conditions and qualifications for the intern


For Students: By clicking the button at the top or bottom of this page, eligible undergraduate students submitted an application for consideration. There was an area on the form where students could identify a faculty member as a mentor. Students who took the initiative to arrange an internship with a faculty mentor were more likely to be selected for this program than students who had not.

What students needed to submit an application:

  • Information about their academic background such as current GPA, relevant coursework, and previous relevant work or internship experiences
  • The name, title, institution, and email address of their potential faculty mentor if they had already identified one
  • Names and email addresses for two references willing to complete a recommendation form


What were the important dates?

  • Early February: Deadline for student applications, recommendation forms, and intern positions from faculty
  • Mid-to-late February: Notifications made to students and faculty
  • Late February to early March: Confirmation deadline for students and faculty
  • Late May / early June: Interns attended the two-week Petascale Institute at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus
  • June - August: Interns worked 30 hours per week on their projects, completed two monthly progress reports, and were paid a $3000 portion of their stipend after the completion of the summer module
  • August - May: Interns worked around eight hours per week on their projects, completed a monthly survey, completed two semester progress reports, and were paid the final two $1000 portions of their stipend (one at the end of each semester)
  • Some time in February/March: Deadline for poster abstracts for the Blue Waters Symposium
  • May 31: Deadline for student paper submission to the Journal of Computational Science Education (JOCSE)
  • Some time in May/June: Select interns attended the Blue Waters Symposium


How can I contact the Blue Waters Student Internship Program Coordinators?

Send email to bwsip at shodor dot org or call 919-530-1911.


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