Richard Moore, Ph.D.

Deputy Director, San Diego Supercomputer Center

Industrial Engagement in the "New Normal"

As one outcome of a strategic planning process, the San Diego Supercomputer Center decided in 2008 to place an increased emphasis on its industrial engagement program. Unfortunately, the timing coincided with the emergence of the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression. Companies hunkered down and put severe restrictions on virtually all new or discretionary spending. It was not the ideal time to develop new university-industry partnerships. However, during this time it became clear that companies would spend where necessary to achieve their business objectives, whether through developing innovative technology or operating more efficiently. Recognizing this, SDSC focused on tactical, project-specific engagements where there was a clear connection to meeting the industrial partner's business need. Potential partners were approached more as customers than funding agencies, which proved to be a successful formula for getting projects started and building relationships. Projects accomplished during this timeframe ranged from researching computer architectures for real-time visualization of massive volumetric data sets, to providing HPC capacity for a major civil engineering project, to computing and storage services for next-generation sequencing. Key success factors in our approach included the "customer-centric" view, a "delivery-oriented" mindset, and responsiveness to the industry partner's needs and timelines.

Working with industry in this way is not without its challenges. Projects requiring precisely defined outcomes or deliverables can necessitate a different mindset than grant-funded research, and reacting to industry timelines can be challenging for academic organizations as companies tend to call "when they need it yesterday." Commercial software licenses can be a particular challenge with which we have had mixed results. Despite the challenges, SDSC has developed a number of successful projects and partnerships over the last three years, assisting companies and other organizations to achieve their business goals in a difficult environment, laying the groundwork for longer-term relationships, and demonstrating the economic and technological impacts of HPC centers to the commercial sector. In this presentation, we will describe in more detail the key success factors and hurdles to HPC academic/industrial engagement programs in this "new normal" business environment, as well as successful examples of HPC for industry applications.


Dr. Richard Moore has been with the San Diego Supercomputer Center since 2002, and is currently the center's Deputy Director and the Principal Investigator of SDSC's TeraGrid award to operate high-performance compute and storage resources for the national open-science user community. Dr. Moore previously held the position of Executive Director for NPACI, the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure. Prior to SDSC, Dr. Moore worked in the aerospace industry for 20 years, including positions at the Aerospace Corporation and Photon Research Associates. He received his Bachelors degree in Astronomy and Mathematics from the University of Michigan and his PhD in Astronomy from the University of Arizona, and had a postdoc position in Radio Astronomy at Caltech.

Workshop Program
updated: 2011-10-19