With technological advances rapidly accelerating the pace of change in the world, it has become critical to understand trends, sometimes in real-time. In addition, there is a need to analyze large amounts of structured and unstructured data and make daily informed decisions that cumulatively contribute to enhanced success. Research, and specifically research at Liberal Arts colleges, has traditionally been overlooked in terms of a supportive, centralized research environment typical of a STEM-focused institution.
The creation of a High Performance Computing (HPC) unit is one of several steps towards addressing this gap. HPC is not just a collection of specialized hardware for highly-parallelizable tasks. Today, it encompasses a multitude of commercial and open source applications (R, RStudio, Jupyter, Tableau, ANSYS, COMSOL, Gaussian, MatLab and more) that are used daily across departments in a highly collaborative manner to study such things as the effects of human activities on the climate, inform policy decisions, learn more about genetics, chemistry and biology to eradicate disease and hunger, create more effective economical models and, generally, find deeper meaning. This can specifically be seen in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, linguistics, media, archeology and more.
The aim of the HPC department at Pomona College is to establish an inclusive framework and a central body of knowledge and support that can help accelerate and simplify the IT aspects of research and teaching. This, in turn, will provide a way for students to learn about real-world IT and the myriad of research and learning opportunities available to them.