NSF EPIC Press Release  

April, 2005

National Science Foundation Strengthens Commitment to Education, Outreach, and Diversity through EPIC Collaboration

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the formation of a new collaboration, supported through the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate, to construct a human capacity building infrastructure that extends the cyberinfrastructure community to include a much larger number of talented and diverse people. The collaboration, "Engaging People in Cyberinfrastructure," or EPIC, includes K-12 teachers, university researchers, leaders of organizations focused on diversity, and tool builders from across the country focused on interlinked and coordinated projects that will significantly increase the diversity and number of people that are learning about and applying cyberinfrastructure to address their research and educational needs.

"The strength and beauty of EPIC is the diversity and commitment of its partners," said Roscoe Giles, Boston University, who is the co-principle investigator for EPIC, along with Greg Moses of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "Our partners include K-12 educators, students, researchers, and members of groups who are leading national efforts to increase diversity within the cyberinfrastructure."

The NSF's programs have seen recent and substantial improvements in their focus on the individuals involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Several directorates within the NSF have added programs to increase the number of people involved in STEM research and education, and to improve the environment for all participants in those areas. One significant program, "Education, Outreach, and Training Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure, " or EOT-PACI (http://www.eot.org), was a partnership of dozens of institutions and organizations throughout the nation, led by the National Computational Science Alliance (http://www.ncsa.edu) and the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (http://www.npaci.edu), which received NSF support from 1997- 2004. During the course of its tenure, an external evaluation showed that 50,000 people had benefited from EOT-PACI.

The NSF's goal of broadening its impact was reinforced by the 2003 report from the NSF's Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Cyberinfrastructure, also known as the Atkins' Report. The report described the "vast opportunity" the NSF has before it, not only to encourage the development of a ubiquitous, comprehensive, user-friendly cyberinfrastructure, but to build the human capacity necessary to fully exploit these computational resources.

EPIC will capitalize on the synergy created by EOT-PACI in engaging educators, humanists, evaluators, and leaders of non-profit organizations, students, and individuals from underrepresented groups in the development of cyberinfrastructure. EPIC's goal is to build human capacity by creating awareness and by educating and training a diverse group of people in all stages of life from K-12 to professional practice to fully participate in the cyberinfrastructure community as developers, users, and leaders. The collaboration places a high priority on the evaluation of EPIC's programs, and the EPIC management structure, to coordinate and leverage the strengths and activities of all partners and their constituents, thereby creating a program in which the whole is significantly greater than the sum of its parts.

EPIC, Led by Roscoe Giles of Boston University and Greg Moses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, includes the following partners: BioQuest Curriculum Consortium, Center for Computational Sciences/University of Kentucky, Coalition to Diversify Computing, Computing Research Association Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research, Florida International University, Maryland Virtual High School, The Math Forum @ Drexel, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, The Ohio Supercomputer Center, Oregon State University, Rice University, San Diego State University, San Diego Supercomputer Center, Shodor Education Foundation, SUNY Brockport, and the Texas Advanced Computing Center/University of Texas at Austin. Together, these institutions will develop virtual institutes, workshops, summer programs, internships, and other activities designed to cross-breed their best practices, to engage a broader and more diverse community in cyberinfrastructure, and to create sustaining programs that will have an impact for years to come. EPIC will be evaluated by the LEAD Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
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