Education Allocation

Submit A Proposal

As part of the Blue Waters project, up to 1 percent (or 1.8 million node-hours) per year of the system's computational capacity is available for educational uses. Educators/researchers who want to use Blue Waters as part of an educational program that would directly involve students in the development and testing of large-scale applications are invited to submit proposals.


Allocations are available for the use of the Blue Waters system in support of qualifying educational events (including courses, workshops, institutes) being offered by U.S. institutions. To qualify, (1) the project lead must be an employee of the institution, and (2) all information and source code ("content") placed on the Blue Waters system must be free of export controls.1

The Education Allocation is intended to broaden the impact of Blue Waters and contribute to the development of a national workforce with expertise in petascale computing. The allocation is to enable projects that advance petascale level computational and data analysis knowledge and skills, foster projects that are visionary and/or are national in scope, integrate research and education activities among national science and engineering communities, and proactively engage under-represented groups and individuals in science, engineering and scholarly research.

Educational Events may focus on a variety of topics. Some possible educational topics include:

  • Projects that focus on large-scale datasets and optimization of I/O file access.

  • Developing and testing of codes that use advanced methods, languages and tools (Partitioned Global Address Space (PGAS) language use, fault tolerant application, library or tools development using redundancy, migration, application check pointing, or other mechanisms for large systems).

  • Optimizing and scaling of a community code to a large-scale simulation.

  • Optimizing or developing new libraries and tools that will leverage architecture features or processor counts unique to the Blue Waters system.

  • Modeling of systems or codes.

  • Focusing on the unique scale and scope of the Blue Waters system.

  • Use of large scale computation and data analytics in discipline specific classes and events.

In addition, awards of Blue Waters allocations are more likely if the course falls within certain parameters.2

The Blue Waters Education Allocations Committee anticipates that up to 20 events/allocations will be supported at a time. Projects may be for at most one year, but will typically cover a one- to two-week period or a semester. Proposals for education allocations will be reviewed within two weeks of submission. Proposals are due the first working day of each month. Responses will be provided roughly by mid month following submission, once all information is provided. Events may involve teams of students but account share is prohibited, so each student has to work within their own account. The event description should clearly link a set of educational goals with the unique capabilities of the Blue Waters system.


Education proposals may be submitted by a faculty member, researcher, or staff member employed at any U.S. institution.

Education allocations are intended to support up to 100 student participants per event.

Proposal Content (not to exceed 5 pages)

  • Team Members: Name, title, affiliation and contact information for the principal investigator and any other faculty/staff involved in the project.

  • Event Abstract: Provide a one-paragraph (150 words) project summary and indicate why Blue Waters is necessary for this activity. This summary will be shared with the community on the Blue Waters website as part of the event description.

  • Project Description: Describe the goal(s) and nature of the education event that is proposed for the use of the Blue Waters system. The description should include the field(s) of study and the learning goals for the project, and should demonstrate how the project will allow the students to achieve these goals. Provide an estimate of the grade level and the anticipated number of students that will participate in the project. Include a description of the faculty/instructor experience with the proposed effort, student experience, and a description of the student tasks in the project. Describe the expected educational outcomes of the project. Indicate the benefits of using the Blue Water system over other HPC resources. See Footnote 2 for further guidelines on designing your project.

  • Resources required:Describe the system requirements for the project, including the number of node-hours (16 AMD Bulldozer cores per traditional XE node, and 8 AMD Bulldozer cores + 1 NVIDIA Kepler GPU per XK accelerator node), the balance between x86 CPUs and Kepler GPUs needed for runs (on average and maximum), and any storage or data access requirements, such as amounts of data to be transferred in and out of the machine.  Please indicate your plans to use MPI or other parallel programming methods. Please explain the level of scaling and/or whether you plan to run single node jobs, and your rationale for the approach. If the system requirements will change during the course of the event, please describe the anticipated changes. Describe the software requirements for the event including compiler and library needs, performance tools, requirements for other applications packages or tools, and version numbers if there are unique version requirements.

  • Support Plan: The event PI and his/her staff are expected to directly handle all questions from the students/participants. The event lead may contact designated Blue Waters support staff to address questions he or she is unable to answer. Indicate any training or information the participating faculty and staff will need to facilitate the event.

  • Final report: The event PI is required to provide a report at the end of the project. This report should include a summary of the effort, the number of students, a complete student list (name, academic status, and institution), event assessments from the students, the learning outcomes, lessons learned, what was unique about access to Blue Waters, publications including curricular materials, and highlights from the activity. Information from the final report will be shared with the National Science Foundation and included on the Blue Waters website.

Additional Required Documents

This additional documentation is not included in the 5-page proposal limit:

  • Resumes of the event PI and the participating faculty and staff (maximum two-pages each) emphasizing their experience to lead the proposed project.

  • Descriptions of venue and instructional equipment.

  • Descriptions of other computational and data resources being used for the event.

  • Provide a project timeline, including start and end dates, due dates for problem sets and assignments.

  • If this is for an accredited course, please include the sponsoring institution's course title and syllabus.

Please submit education allocation requests via Responses will be provided within two weeks after the submission deadlines. Responses on proposals not meeting the conditions set forth in Footnote 2 may be delayed.


1Provided the event content does not touch upon encryption or telecommunications technology, it will meet the second requirement if at least one of the following applies: (a) the content is already publicly available; (b) the course is a catalog-listed course offered by the academic institution or an associated teaching lab; (c) the content is identical to material previously taught in a catalog-listed course or associated teaching lab of any academic institution; or (d) the content, while not yet publicly available, arose from non-proprietary basic or applied research, is free to be published, and is intended to be published in the near future. "Telecommunications technology" means any information that would be useful in the electronic transmission of data.

2Parameters: (0) the events are national in scope, integrate research and education and/or broaden participation (1) The activity does not touch upon encryption, telecommunications technology, military items, spacecraft systems, rockets, satellites or submarines; (2) The software to be placed on the Blue Waters system for use by the students has no functionalities for encryption or data transmission; and (3) All software to be placed on the Blue Waters system for use by the students meets at least one of the conditions: (a) the software is "publicly available" (i.e., the source code be publicly available for free or at a price that does not exceed the cost of reproduction or distribution), with no export control or trade (OFAC)-based obligations to an owner/controller; or (b) if not publicly available, the software will be placed on the system only after obtaining all required permissions or licenses (e.g., from the vendor), the permissions/licenses are not conditioned on meeting export control or trade (OFAC)-based requirements, and the software will be accessed only by students who are located within the U.S.; or (c) the software was created in its entirety during fundamental research or during a catalog-listed course or associated teaching lab of any academic institution (this includes creation during the course for which Blue Waters system use is proposed).