The Center for Computation and Visualization is seeking a new executive director to manage the center's services on a daily basis. The center, which houses the University's supercomputer, also provides researchers access to "computational science, scientific visualization and virtual reality display applications," according to its website.
The center has never had a permanent executive director. John Spadaro, director of technical architecture and outreach for Computing and Information Services, took on the role of interim executive director in September. But Spadaro said working in both departments has been hectic, and the amount of time he must devote to the center has left a backlog of work at CIS.
The search to find a full-time replacement — which has been going on for a year — has not been easy, said Jan Hesthaven, director of the center and professor of applied mathematics. There are very few individuals that possess the skills necessary to handle the job, he said. Hesthaven said he could not specify when he and the hiring committee expect to hire someone. "I can't even begin to give you a timeline," he said. So far, all of the potential candidates have come from outside the Brown community.
Hesthaven's faculty position prevents him from managing the activities of the center on a daily basis, so an executive director position held by a non-faculty member is necessary to keep the center running smoothly, he said.
In addition to daily management of the center's staff and facilities, Spadaro said outreach is an important aspect of the executive director's duties. Recently, the department completed a brochure which was sent to all faculty and researchers, he said. The center also holds workshops for faculty members and graduate students to make them aware of the resources the center provides. He said the workshops are also open to undergraduates.
Despite plans to step down, Spadaro said he enjoys his work at the center. "CIS is the central computing organization at the University," he said, but it "never attempts to provide resources to the research community." Spadaro said his position at the center gave him his first exposure to working with researchers.
The executive director will manage the center's supercomputer. Hesthaven said the supercomputer, which was first unveiled in 2009, is currently serving 300 users at all academic levels. The supercomputer is currently operating at its maximum capacity, but Hesthaven said the center will continue to try and expand its capabilities, in part through funding from faculty research grants.
Another project taking place is the rebuilding of the Cave, which will utilize 3-D imagery and virtual reality to aid researchers and academic courses, Spadaro said. David Laidlaw, professor of computer science, will head the rebuilding funded by the National Science Foundation. "It's a very exciting project that's getting a lot of attention," Spadaro said.