Prasad Wins $1.1 Million NSF Grant for Curriculum Center
The National Science Foundation has awarded a $1.1 million grant to professor Sushil Prasad. The grant, which runs for three years, provides continued funding for his efforts to create a parallel and distributed computing (PDC) curriculum for undergraduate computer science and computer engineering students.
Dr. Prasad will use money from the grant to establish a new center at Georgia State, to be named the Center for Parallel and Distributed Computing Curriculum Development and Educational Resources (CDER). Formal approval for the center is expected this spring. Roughly three-quarters of the faculty in the Department of Computer Science will belong to CDER. The center, which will employ both undergraduate and graduate students as assistants, is currently trying to hire a postdoctoral fellow.
CDER will have four goals:
Develop PDC core curricula for a variety of programs and institutions.
Develop and collect instructional materials for teaching PDC topics.
Facilitate access to state-of-the-art hardware and software for PDC instruction.
Organize competitions for early adopters of PDC curricula, as well as curriculum-related workshops, special sessions, and tutorials.
While serving as chair of the IEEE Computer Society Technical Committee on Parallel Processing (TCPP), Dr. Prasad created a working group known as the NSF/IEEE-TCPP Curriculum Initiative on Parallel and Distributed Computing, which is developing a core PDC curriculum. A preliminary version of the curriculum appeared in December 2010; Version 1 was released in December 2012. Two of the group’s key activities are Early Adopter competitions and the NSF/TCPP Workshop on Parallel and Distributed Computing Education (EduPar).
In Early Adopter competitions, colleges submit proposals to incorporate the IEEE-TCPP curriculum guidelines into one or more courses. These competitions have been held twice a year in both 2011 and 2012, with winners receiving an average grant of $1,500.
EduPar workshops allow early adopters, the public, and the working group to discuss the proposed PDC curriculum and share experiences. These workshops were held in 2011 and 2012 in conjunction with the IEEE International Parallel and Distributed Processing Symposium (IPDPS). The third EduPar is scheduled for May 20 in Boston, with Dr. Prasad serving as the workshop chair.
Dr. Prasad’s award is part of a $1.345 million NSF Collaborative Research grant. The remaining money will be split among three other principal investigators: Dr. Arnold Rosenberg (Northeastern University), Dr. Alan Sussman (University of Maryland), and Dr. Charles Weems (University of Massachusetts). Dr. Anshul Gupta of the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center will also play a key role in Dr. Prasad’s project.
Dr. Prasad’s grant was awarded by NSF’s Computing Research Infrastructure program, which supports the creation of world-class computing research infrastructure. His award was in the Community Infrastructure category, which provides funding for research and education facilities that are used by a broad community, not just the institution receiving the grant.
Although Dr. Prasad’s grant is administered by NSF’s Division of Computer and Network Systems, funding was provided by several NSF organizations, including the Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering, the Office of Cyberinfrastructure, and the Division of Undergraduate Education in the Directorate for Education & Human Resources.
In addition to NSF funding, the NSF/IEEE-TCPP Curriculum Initiative has received support from Intel, NVIDIA, and IBM. Intel is the initiative’s primary corporate sponsor. NVIDIA has donated graphics cards for early adopters, while IBM has provided funding for keynote talks at EduPar workshops.