Women in IT Networking at SC Awarded the CENIC 2017 Innovations in Networking Award for Experimental Applications

BERKELEY, Calif. & LA MIRADA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In recognition of work to expand the diversity of the SCinet volunteer
staff and to provide professional development opportunities to highly
qualified women in the field of networking, the Women in IT Networking
at SC (WINS) program has been selected by CENIC as a recipient of the
2017 Innovations in Networking Award for Experimental Applications.
Project members being recognized include Wendy Huntoon (KINBER), Marla
Meehl (UCAR), and Kate Petersen Mace, Lauren Rotman, and Jason Zurawski
(ESnet).

This powerful collaboration fosters gender diversity in the field of
technology, a critical need. By funding women IT professionals to
participate in SCinet and to attend the Supercomputing Conference, the
program allows the next generation of technology leaders to gain
critical skills.

“Until you roll your sleeves up and dig into building and operating
SCinet, which is an amazingly robust, high-bandwidth network that exists
for just two weeks, it’s hard to imagine just how tough it is — and how
rewarding it is,” said Inder Monga, Director of ESnet, the Department of
Energy’s Energy Sciences Network. “Many of our ESnet engineers have been
members of the SCinet team over the years, bringing back valuable skills
in network operations, project management, teamwork, and on-the-spot
problem-solving. Our support of WINS is one way of contributing back to
the conference and the community’s growth and success.”

In 2016, eight women were selected to be part of the WINS program; three
were funded to return to SC16 after participating in the 2015 WINS
cohort. Sana Bellamine, a CENIC Core Engineer, was a 2015 WINS award
winner and was invited to participate again in SC16. As a part of her
work on SCinet, she used high-end, state-of-the-art equipment to test
100 Gbps circuits, setting up the environment to test these circuits,
and documenting the procedure for doing so. In addition to developing
technical expertise, Sana formed lasting relationships with other
members of the 2015 WINS cohort. They regularly exchange knowledge,
code, and advice using a slack channel (a form of instant messaging),
which helps inform their ongoing work within their respective
organizations.

As Sana reflects on this experience and its continuing benefits, she
notes, “I am thankful to CENIC and to the WINS program for the
opportunity to be part of the SCinet team. As one of the SCinet
wide-area network team members in 2016, I worked in close collaboration
with another awardee on the development of procedures for testing 100GE
circuits at line rate. These procedures were used to validate 7x100GE
circuits into the SuperComputing show floor. CENIC associates were able
to achieve the desired throughput for their planned demos over these
100GE links. The SCinet network is a mature, multi-vendor environment
with a rich set of the tools. Having direct exposure to the SCinet
network enables me to explore new approaches in my daily work at CENIC.”

Kate Petersen Mace, one of the project leaders from ESnet and the SC14
SCinet Chair, notes that, “The WINS program has been an overwhelming
success for SCinet as a whole. As a long-time SCinet member, I
understand through experience the amazing challenges and opportunities
that volunteering for SCinet present. The dedication and diverse set of
skills the WINS awardees have brought has been invaluable, and has
strengthened the SCinet team. The WINS Management team is thrilled to
see CENIC help lead the way in celebrating the value of a diverse
workforce through its continued support of unique training and
professional development opportunities—such as SCinet—for its employees.”

Participants grow immeasurably through their involvement with this
high-capacity network that supports revolutionary HPC applications and
experiments. By joining volunteers from academia, government, and
industry working together to design and deliver SCinet, they acquire
skills and experiences they can use in their daily work at their home
institutions.

WINS is funded jointly through a grant from the National Science
Foundation (NSF) and direct funding from the Department of Energy’s
(DOE) ESnet. WINS awardees are selected from a competitive application
process which includes review by an external committee of leaders in the
research and education networking community.

Funds from NSF and DOE provide WINS awardees travel support to
participate in SCinet staging and set-up, which take place in the weeks
leading up to the conference. The awardees continue their work during
the entire week of the Supercomputing conference, when SCinet goes live
for attendees to use for any networking need—from wireless Internet
access to multi-gigabit demonstrations. At the conclusion of the
conference, awardees then help tear down the entire infrastructure in
approximately 48 hours.

After their hands-on experience at the SC conference, participants
receive support to attend community conferences like the Quilt
semi-annual member meeting, and regional network meetings such as the
CENIC annual meeting, the Internet2 Global Summit, and the National Lab
Information Technology (NLIT) meeting, among others. At these events,
the WINS awardees participate in panel discussions to share their
experiences and continue building their professional networks. This
participation has resulted in increased awareness of and dialogue about
the diversity gap that continues to persist in the IT community.

“WINS is a creative approach to the problem of increasing the number of
talented network engineers, by developing the capabilities and vision of
underrepresented female engineers through deep engagement in SCinet,”
notes Kevin Thompson, program manager in the NSF’s Office of Advanced
Cyberinfrastructure, which provides WINS funding. “The project attacks a
visible challenge in the production R&E networking community: gender
diversity in the leadership and workforce. This effort will, at a
minimum, significantly impact the careers of 15 women, and it has
tremendous potential to do much more in the years ahead, especially if
its sustainability approach succeeds.”

Innovations in Networking Awards are presented each year by CENIC to
highlight the exemplary innovations that leverage ultra-high bandwidth
networking, particularly where those innovations have the potential to
transform the ways in which instruction and research are conducted or
where they further the deployment of broadband in underserved areas.

About
ESnet • www.es.net

The Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) is a high-performance, unclassified
network built to support scientific research. Funded by the U.S.
Department of Energy’s Office of Science (SC) and managed by the
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, ESnet provides services to more
than 40 DOE research sites, including the entire National Laboratory
system, its supercomputing facilities, and its major scientific
instruments. ESnet also connects to 140 research and commercial
networks, permitting DOE-funded scientists to productively collaborate
with partners around the world.

About
WINS • www.women-in-networking.net

The Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) program, introduced in November
2015 at the SC15 conference in Austin, Texas, was developed as a means
for addressing the prevalent gender gap that exists in Information
Technology (IT), particularly in the fields of network engineering and
high-performance computing (HPC). The 2015 program* enabled five
talented early to mid-career women from diverse regions of the U.S.
research and education community IT field to participate in the
ground-up construction of SCinet, one of the fastest and most advanced
computer networks in the world. WINS is a joint effort between the
Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), the Keystone Initiative for Network
Based Education and Research (KINBER), and the University Corporation
for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).

About
UCAR • www2.ucar.edu

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) is a
nonprofit consortium of more than 100 North American member colleges and
universities focused on research and training in the atmospheric and
related earth-system sciences. UCAR manages the National Center for
Atmospheric Research with sponsorship by the National Science
Foundation. Through its community programs, UCAR supports and extends
the capabilities of its academic consortium.

About
KINBER • www.kinber.org

The Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research
(KINBER) is a membership organization devoted to fostering collaboration
through technology for education, research, healthcare, libraries,
public media, workforce development, government, and economic
development. KINBER offers connectivity, technology infrastructure
solutions and training, and professional development opportunities
tailored to support the needs of its members, ranging from libraries and
health systems to large university settings. KINBER built and manages
the 1,800-mile Pennsylvania Research and Education Network, known as
PennREN, which provides advanced data networking to non-profit
organizations and fosters collaboration between Pennsylvania-based
organizations for value-added services such as Internet2 connectivity,
realistic high-definition video, real-time video conferencing, and data
sharing. PennREN access points are now in 51 of Pennsylvania’s 67
counties, with initial connections in more than 70 locations over the
1,800-mile network.

Contacts

CENIC
Lee Ann Weber
714-220-3465
lweber@cenic.org