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Members will recall that the Intersect consortium was awarded an ARC LIEF grant in 2009 for a high performance computing cluster to replace one of the aging super computers at ac3. The consortium faced two options:, (1) the renewal of local HPC infrastructure through the purchase of a new cluster system, and (2) the acquisition of services from the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) on its National Facility. Intersect commissioned an independent assessment of the options and that report has been circulated to the grant’s CIs, the relevant DVCRs and the Intersect Board. The consultants recommended that the consortium invest in NCI, stating, “the NCI proposal will most likely deliver the best outcomes for delivery of high performance computing services to the NSW Universities and research teams”. All parties have since adopted the recommendation. Moreover all universities have reaffirmed their commitment to the $390K promised in the original application and this, together with the $500K granted by the ARC, provides $890K for the renewal of HPC facilities.  We will keep you updated regarding further developments.

Substantial increases in research infrastructure funding were announced as part of the recent Federal budget. An additional $312M has been allocated to Platforms for Collaboration, PfC, related activities, including:

  • $97M towards data storage and collaboration infrastructure, to build on the collaboration services, data fabric and cloud computing initiatives underway in the Australian Research Collaboration Service, ARCS;
  • $48M to advance the development of the Australian Data Commons, working through the Australian National Data Service, ANDS, and the research sector;
  • $130M to High Performance Computing, including extending the current National Facility to petaflop scale; and
  • $37M towards an Australian Research Network, i.e. a dedicated, high capability connection between all major research centres.

Intersect is working closely with ARCS, ANDS, NCI and DIISR to ensure this money is used efficiently and that an appropriate proportion is available to NSW.

Intersect has added another project to its production cycle. Healthy.me is a communication tool operating in the health sector and is headed up by Professor Enrico Coiera, Director of Centre for Health Informatics at the University of UNSW.

Dr Markus Buchhorn has joined Intersect as Director of Services. Dr Buchhorn was previously Director of ICT Environments at the Australian National University, and is an advisor on NCRIS Platforms for Collaboration program, the Australian National Data Service, a member of the National e-Research Architecture Taskforce (NeAT). Markus will oversee Intersect’s services including: High Performance Computing support; IT consulting; training; data management; and ARCS and ANDS service provision.

Markus’s appointment completes the executive team at Intersect, combining the strengths of academe and industry.

The Linkage Infrastructure Equipment Facilities (LIEF) application for a distributed research data store for NSW has been submitted to the Australian Research Council. LE100100100 finally ran to 173 pages. The application makes a strong case with solid contributions from all Intersect members plus the University of Western Sydney (UWS), and an impressive lineup of Chief Investigators (CIs). Many thanks go to Prof Marc Wilkins from UNSW, who as Lead CI shouldered the intellectual burden of the application.

LEADING information technology researcher Dr Markus Buchhorn has been appointed Director of Services for Intersect, the peak eResearch body for NSW.

Intersect was founded in late 2008 as a consortium of NSW universities supported by the NSW Government through a Science Leveraging Fund of $2.8 million from the Department of State and Regional Development. Read more...

Intersect's first Graduate Software Engineer starts work today. Howey Fu graduated last year with  a Bachelor of Software Engineering (First Class Hons) and Commerce-Finance from the University of NSW. Howey will join the Innovation Projects Team and begin work on the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank project immediately.

This is the first appointment in an ongoing strategy intended to address critical eResearch skills shortages by providing training, professional development and career opportunities.

Intersect is planning to recruit another 2 - 3 graduates.

Intersect's Ian Gibson and SIRCA's Mike Briers slept rough with 220 other CEOs on June 18 as part of the St Vincent de Paul Society's Winter Appeal. At time of writing, the CEO Sleepout has raised $587,687.

Over 105,000 Australian men, women and children will sleep rough this winter. As part of their 2009 Winter Appeal, St Vincent de Paul invited business and community leaders to experience life on the streets, first-hand.  The CEO Sleepout involved sleeping out on a cardboard box overnight at Luna Park, Sydney.

Ian Gibson said, "I gained a small insight into what it means in a practical way to not have access to shelter. What is particularly distressing is that a large proportion of the tens of thousands of homeless people are women and children. Many thanks to those who sponsored us."

The University of New England (UNE) voted at last week's council meeting to join Intersect. UNE will become a subscribing member of Intersect for three years.

UNE's A/g PVCR, Prof Ray Cooksey says, "UNE, the first regional Australian university, is very keen to move forward and start working in collaboration with Intersect to pursue mutually advantageous strategic priorities. UNE is particularly interested in working with Intersect to evolve projects that address the needs of rural and regional researchers in a larger collaborative context".

"This is significant because UNE is the first university to sign since the foundation members started Intersect last year", says Intersect CEO Ian Gibson, "we welcome UNE as our seventh university member and look forward to working together in the coming years".

"Intersect is working to influence the national framework for research infrastructure, and in particular to secure Education Infrastructure Funding for the State. The Federal budget allocated an additional $312M over four years for Platforms for Collaboration, as part of its broader science and research investment program. Intersect currently has seven staff funded through various PfC programs. We expect this to increase substantially", he said.

Universities need to provide their views on the Federal Government's research and investment program, and the Super Science data storage initiative in particular, by October 2009.

"Intersect can bring these needs together, and ensure that NSW universities requirements are met. UNE's membership strengthens the NSW case and helps us represent research needs across the NSW university sector" said Gibson.

Intersect has moved to its own new premises on Level 12, 309 Kent St., Sydney. The space has undergone basic renovations over the past month, and our two teams move in today.
If you are in the city, please feel free to drop by and visit us. The office has capacity for approximately 50 staff, including a number of hot desks.

Intersect Australia Limited
Level 12
309 Kent St
Sydney

Postal address (remains the same):
PO Box H58
Australia Square 1215

All staff phone numbers will change, and we'll confirm those numbers shortly. To be sure, contact us by email.

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