XSEDE EMPOWER: Engaging Undergraduates in the Work of Advanced Digital Services and Resources

Aaron Weeden

Volume 12, Issue 2 (February 2021), pp. 22–24


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  author={Aaron Weeden},
  title={XSEDE EMPOWER: Engaging Undergraduates in the Work of Advanced Digital Services and Resources},
  journal={The Journal of Computational Science Education},
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To address the need for a diverse and capable workforce in advanced digital services and resources, the Shodor Education Foundation has been coordinating an undergraduate student program for the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE). The name of the program is EMPOWER (Expert Mentoring Producing Opportunities for Work, Education, and Research). The goal of the program is to engage a diverse group of undergraduate students in the work of XSEDE, matching them with faculty and staff mentors who have projects that make use of XSEDE services and resources or that otherwise prepare students to use these types of services and resources. Mentors have coordinated projects in computational science and engineering research in many fields of study as well as systems and user support. Students work for a semester, quarter, or summer at a time and can participate for up to a year supported by stipends from the program, at different levels depending on experience. The program has run for 11 iterations from summer 2017 through fall 2020. The 111 total student participants have been 28% female and 31% underrepresented minority, and they have been selected from a pool of 272 total student applicants who have been 31% female and 30% underrepresented minority. We are pleased that the selection process does not favor against women and minorities but would also like to see these proportions increase. At least one fourth of the students have presented their work in articles or at conferences, and multiple credit the program with moving them towards graduate study or otherwise advancing them in their careers.