[tforum] [Fwd: [CAnet - news] Engineering Virtual Organizations - NSF CyberInfrastructure Program]

Joe Breen Joe.Breen@utah.edu
Tue, 15 May 2007 06:31:12 -0600


The following National Science Foundation solicitation is an example of 
how the research world is moving in parallel to the social networks. 
Collaborations are now of entities and resources around the world that 
are connecting and sharing data and expertise.  These entities are 
connecting resources via dark fiber, extended international VLANs, 
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and various tunnels.  The Funding models 
are starting to adapt as well.  Even if you don't support a research 
group that might participate directly, the solicitation is short and 
worth a skim to see how things are changing.  The first and second 
paragraph gives the majority of the description.  --Joe

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [CAnet - news] Engineering Virtual Organizations - NSF
CyberInfrastructure Program
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 14:57:51 -0400
From: Bill St.Arnaud <bill.st.arnaud@canarie.ca>
Reply-To: bill.st.arnaud@canarie.ca
To: <news@canarie.ca>

For more information on this item please visit my blog at

[NSF has just launched an exciting new program called Engineering Virtual
Organizations. Those who are interested in applying CANARIE's Network
Enabled Platforms program should read this solicitation closely. It is
almost identical in terms of requirements for the CANARIE program.  Most
importantly Canadian research teams are eligible to apply for funding to the
CANARIE program to join or participate in  any US or European virtual
organization as described in the NSF solicitation.-- BSA]

Engineering Virtual Organization Grants   (EVO)

Program Solicitation
NSF 07-558

     Engineering Virtual Organization (EVO) Grants

Synopsis of Program:

     The primary purpose of this solicitation is to promote the development
of Virtual Organizations (VO's) for the engineering community (EVOs).  A VO
is created by a group of individuals whose members and resources may be
dispersed globally, yet who function as a coherent unit through the use of
cyberinfrastructure (CI).  EVOs will extend beyond small collaborations and
individual departments or institutions to encompass wide-ranging,
geographically dispersed activities and groups. This approach has the
potential to revolutionize the conduct of science and engineering research,
education, and innovation. These systems provide shared access to
centralized or distributed resources, such as community-specific sets of
tools, applications, data, and sensors, and experimental operations, often
in real time.

     With the access to enabling tools and services, self-organizing
communities can create VOs to facilitate scientific workflows; collaborate
on experiments; share information and knowledge; remotely operate
instrumentation; run numerical simulations using shared computing resources;
dynamically acquire, archive, e-publish, access, mine, analyze, and
visualize data; develop new computational models; and deliver unique
learning, workforce-development, and innovation tools. Most importantly,
each VO design can originate within a community and be explicitly tailored
to meet the needs of that specific community.  At the same time, to exploit
the full power of cyberinfrastructure for a VO's needs, research domain
experts need to collaborate with CI professionals who have expertise in
algorithm development, systems operations, and application development.

     This program solicitation requests proposals for two-year seed 
awards to
establish EVOs.  Proposals must address the EVO organizing principle,
structure, shared community resources, and research and learning goals; a
vision for organizing the community, including international partners; a
vision for preparing the CI components needed to enable those goals; a plan
to obtain and document user requirements formally; and a project management
plan for developing both a prototype implementation and a conceptual design
of a full implementation. These items will be used as criteria for
evaluation along with the standard NSF criteria of Intellectual Merit and
Broader Impacts.  Within the award size constraints, the prototype
implementation should provide proof of concept with a limited number of its
potential CI features.  Successful proposals should expect to demonstrate
the benefits of a fully functional EVO and how it will catalyze both large
and small connections, circumventing the global limitations of geography and
time zones.


Cyberinfrastructure (CI) is having a transformative effect on engineering
practice, science and education. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has
been active in developing CI and advancing its use.  Numerous resources are
available that describe these activities:

     * Report of the NSF Blue-Ribbon Panel on Cyberinfrastructure
     * NSF Cyberinfrastructure Council Vision document
     * NSF-sponsored workshops, several focused on engineering CI

Among its other investments in CI, NSF has catalyzed the creation of VOs as
a key means of aiding access to research resources, thus advancing science
and its application.  Researchers working at the frontiers of knowledge and
innovation increasingly require access to shared, world-class community
resources spanning data collections, high-performance computing equipment,
advanced simulation tools, sophisticated analysis and visualization
facilities, collaborative tools, experimental facilities and field
equipment, distributed instrumentation, sensor networks and arrays, mobile
research platforms, and digital learning materials.  With an end-to-end
system, VOs can integrate shared community resources, including
international resources, with an interoperable suite of software and
middleware services and tools and high-performance networks. This use of CI
can then create powerful transformative and broadly accessible pathways for
scientific and engineering VOs to accelerate research outcomes into
knowledge, products, services, and new learning opportunities.

Initial engineering-focused VOs (EVOs) have demonstrated the potential for
this approach.  Examples of EVOs involving significant engineering
communities are the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering
Simulation (NEES), the Collaborative Large-scale Engineering Analysis
Network for Environmental Research (now called the WATERS network), the
National Nanofabrication Users Network, and the Network for Computational
Nanotechnology and its nanoHUB.org portal.

Other engineering communities can benefit from extending this model:
organizing as VOs; exploiting existing CI tools, rapidly putting them to
use; and identifying new CI opportunities, needs, and tools to reach toward
their immediate and grand-challenge goals.  These activities must be driven
by the needs of participating engineers and scientists, but collaboration
with information scientists is vital to build in the full power of CI

Creation of VOs by engineering communities will revolutionize how their
research, technical collaborations, and engineering practices are developed
and conducted.  EVOs will accelerate both research and education by
organizing and aiding shared access to community resources through a mix of
governance principles and cyberinfrastructure.


This program solicitation requests proposals for two-year seed awards with
three key elements: (1) establishing an engineering virtual organization,
(2) deploying its prototype EVO implementation, and (3) creating a
conceptual design of its full implementation. Proposals are encouraged from
engineering communities that can provide documentary evidence of strong
community support and interest in developing an EVO enabled by CI,
potentially including international participants. The CI conceptual design
should draw upon: (1) articulated research and education goals of a research
community to advance new frontiers, (2) advances made by other scientific
and engineering fields in establishing and operating VOs and their
associated CI, (3) commercially available CI tools and services, and (4) CI
tools and services emerging from current federal investments.

Proposals must address the following topics:


       EVO structure and justification:  Vision and mission; organizing and
governing structure; members and recruitment; end users; stakeholders; and
shared community resources (e.g., experimental facilities, observatories,
data collections), their associated service providers, and access /
allocation methods. Identify frontier research and education goals of the
EVO, including compelling research questions and the potential for broad
participation. EVOs will extend beyond small collaborations and individual
departments or institutions to encompass wide-ranging, geographically
dispersed activities and groups.

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These news items and comments are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect
those  of the CANARIE board or management.

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