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Cloud Computing for Education

The computing cloud at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) hosts web server application WebMO as a computational tool for quantum chemistry calculations. This web-based interface to authentic research tools (Gaussian and GAMES) was made available for use by ICLCS Fellows during their 2008 summer workshops and has since expanded to include Fellows' high-school students. Since then, usage expanded rapidly with the introduction of the computational tool to a series of undergraduate organic chemistry courses at the University of Illinois.

Currently we are serving 124 rural high school chemistry teachers. In addition, from June 2009 to May 2010, we provided support for 1,929 high school students and 1,600 undergraduate students. We have also found that from January 2008 to March 2010, approximately 32,000 jobs had been submitted by primarily Fellows (19,000) and by their students (13,000).

NCSA's Cloud, built for robustness using known, reliable methods for delivering a highly available and fault-tolerant service, has been key in providing the cyber-infrastructure to enable our continued increase in usage in Education over the course of nearly two years. The current environment is providing key data to guide the continued expansion of computational tools for education in order to make use of a full 1% of NCSA's total computing power, including the Blue Waters sustained petascale computer coming online in 2011.