Popular Practicum AI Series Now Available to Everyone

UF Information Technology (UFIT) is making its popular Practicum AI beginner series of courses available online through UF Professional and Workforce Development. The series is available to anyone interested in learning the fundamentals of artificial intelligence, including UF alumni and members of the public that want to understand and apply AI tools. Developed to introduce a broad audience to hands-on applied artificial intelligence applications, the Practicum AI series assumes no prior knowledge of coding or AI, and is a great introduction for professionals in any field where AI can be applied. The beginner series has four courses:

1. Getting Started with AI: An introduction to AI, AI models and their development, and AI ethics. 

2. Computing For AI: An introduction to the computational tools used in AI: Git and GitHub.com and Jupyter Notebooks. Participants will use these tools on either a high-performance computer system or in Google Colab. 

3. Python for AI: An introduction to Python programming and data science tools used in AI. This class focuses on the core aspects needed for applied AI. The course also introduces strategies for working with AI coding assistants to accelerate your skills. 

4. Deep Learning Foundations: An introduction to neural networks, deep learning, and how to train AI models using the skills you’ve gained in the previous three courses.

Each course earns a completion badge, and participants who complete all four courses will earn the Practicum AI Beginner Series digital certificate, issued from Credly. The courses are available to anyone at a modest cost — only $20 per class or $50 if purchasing all four at the bundle price. Practicum AI is free for UF faculty and staff (use discount code “ufstaff”) and for students (use discount code “ufstudent”).

With the beginner series of courses now live, UFIT’s Practicum AI team has begun work creating the Intermediate series. The first of these — Computer Vision — will be offered in-person in Summer 2024. Natural Language Processing and Generative AI courses are also in development. For additional information or questions, please contact UFIT’s Research Computing Training Team leader Matt Gitzendanner (magitz@ufl.edu).

Research Software Engineering Service Offered From UFIT

UF Information Technology’s (UFIT) new research software engineering team are primed to help researchers carry out technically advanced tasks. Services offered include writing custom, expert-quality scientific software and helping faculty address the increased data management and research reproducibility requirements.

Initial funding for this new team is provided by President Sasse’s strategic funding initiative. The research software engineers (RSEs) can enable hero calculations–calculations that require all GPUs of HiPerGator, the University of Florida supercomputer–by developing high performance, scalable, and sustainable research software, improving research staff efficiency, and enabling technology adoption to enhance research outcomes.

Consulting and support from the RSEs include:

  • Leading and supporting the development of domain specific research software utilizing best software engineering practices.
  • Designing, architecting and implementing AI-driven solutions tailored to address complex scientific research problems across disciplines.
  • Designing and developing digital twin technology, encompassing object and system design, process development and optimization, predictive modeling, ensuring integration with multiple systems.
  • Optimizing workflow design for utilizing HiPerGator in running the software● Data management, processing, database setup and maintenance, and data access API development with internal and external data providers.
  • Expert consultation and guidance on cutting-edge software tools, algorithms, and hardware resources.

UFIT’s Research Computing staff looks forward to supporting your research project. Let’s discuss your line of inquiry and identify how our staff can help your project. Contact AI Support Manager Ms. Ying Zhang (yingz@ufl.edu) to begin your RSE consult.

Advancing UF Research Inquiry and Reputation

The NVIDIA AI Technology Center (NVAITC) at UF is proving to be a valuable asset to the University of Florida’s research community. Since its inception and through Feb. 2024, the NVAITC has supported 10 completed and 15 in-progress HiPerGator projects. This is in addition to providing expertise for 25 conference presentation proposals and 26 journal articles accepted for publication.

The NVIDIA AI Technology Center at UF is the first NVAITC center in North America. The center’s purpose is to advance AI education and research while fostering partnerships between higher education and industry. Hosting the NVAITC enables UF researchers to adopt the latest NVIDIA technologies and accelerate research projects. Additionally, the NVIDIA workshops held on campus have been attended by more than 2,400 faculty, students, and staff, equating to a value of more than $1 million in free, advanced AI training.

Faculty interested in scheduling a consult about a research project supported by the NVAITC are welcome to contact Dr. Kaleb Smith, senior data scientist and manager of the NVAITC. Dr. Smith and UFIT’s AI Support Manager Ms. Ying Zhang (yingz@ufl.edu) are both available for consultation during the initial exploration process of your research project.

Data Parallelism: How to Train Deep Learning Models on Multiple GPUs

The NVIDIA AI Technology Center at the University of Florida is offering an instructor-led, deep learning institute workshop in April: Data Parallelism: How to Train Deep Learning Models on Multiple GPUs.

Workshop Dates: April 11-12, 2024 (Thursday and Friday), from 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Registration Link: https://forms.gle/KiNxdjqxJ7AZCZFk6

The workshop will be held over two days (four hours each day) in Malachowsky Hall’s NVIDIA Auditorium. Its focus is on techniques for data-parallel deep learning training on multiple GPUs to shorten the training time required for data-intensive applications. Working with deep learning tools, frameworks, and workflows to perform neural network training, attendees will learn how to decrease model training time by distributing data to multiple GPUs, while retaining the accuracy of training on a single GPU. The full course outline may be found on this NVIDIA website page.

The course is FREE and open to the university community, but pre-registration is required. Also required is experience with Python. Technologies used in the workshop are PyTorch, PyTorch Distributed Data Parallel, and NCCL.

If you have any questions about this workshop, please email the instructor, NVIDIA Data Scientist Yungchao Yang (yunchaoyang@ufl.edu).


Undergraduate Scholarship Opportunity in High Performance Computing and AI

Interested in high performance computing and AI? A National Science Foundation grant awarded to Assistant Professor Mickey MacKie and supported by UF Information Technology (UFIT) is open to two undergraduate women.

The two selected students will have the opportunity to develop their project utilizing the university’s supercomputing resources. Students will also receive a financial stipend along with mentoring throughout their project’s lifecycle. Additional details about this undergraduate research opportunity, along with the application form, are available here:


Dr. MacKie and AI Support Manager Ying Zhang are accepting applications for the Women in High Performance Computing Scholarship through 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 15, 2024. Undergraduates from all disciplines are welcome to apply! Students with questions prior to submitting their application are welcome to contact Ms. Ying Zhang.

‘Hero’ Calculation Capability Yields Significant Achievement

Basic biology textbooks will tell you that all life on Earth is built from four types of molecules: proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids.  But what if we could actually show that these “molecules of life,” such as amino acids and DNA bases, can be formed naturally in the right environment? Researchers at the University of Florida are using HiPerGator – the fastest supercomputer in U.S. higher education – to test this experiment. 

“Our previous success enabled us to use Machine Learning and AI to calculate energies and forces on molecular systems, with results that are identical to those of high-level quantum chemistry but around 1 million times faster,” said Adrian Roitberg, Ph.D., a professor in UF’s Department of Chemistry who has been using Machine Learning to study chemical reactions for six years. “These questions have been asked before but, due to computational limitations, previous calculations used small numbers of atoms and could not explore the range of time needed to obtain results. But with HiPerGator, we can do it.” 

HiPerGator – with its AI models and vast capacity for Graphics Processing Units, or GPUs (specialized processors designed to accelerate graphics renderings) – is transforming the molecular research game. Until a decade ago, conducting research on the evolution and interactions of large collections of atoms and molecules could only be done using simple computer simulation experiments; the computing power needed to handle the datasets just wasn’t available.  Read the full press release here.

UFIT Senior Director Erik Deumens explained how this full takeover of HiPerGator was possible: 

“HiPerGator has the unique capability to run very large ‘hero’ calculations that use the entire machine, with the potential to lead to breakthroughs in science and scholarship,” Deumens said. “When we found out about the work Dr. Roitberg’s group was doing, we approached him to try a ‘hero’ run with the code he developed.” 

Researchers interested in discussing using HiPerGator for hero calculations are welcome to contact Dr. Deumens.

New NVIDIA DLI Workshop Offered in February

The University of Florida’s ambassadorship status with NVIDIA means that faculty, students, and staff have free training opportunities in accelerated computing and applied AI. Through the NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute (DLI) and in coordination with UFIT, a two-day Generative AI with Diffusion Models workshop is being offered for the first time at UF on February 22-23.

Day/Date/Time: Thursday and Friday, Feb. 22–23, from 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. each day

Location: Malachowsky Hall Auditorium – Room 1000

Register to Attend: Registration Link

The Generative AI with Diffusion Models workshop is taught by UF’s NVIDIA AI Technology Center Site Manager and Senior Data Scientist Kaleb Smith. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of denoising diffusion models to generate images from text prompts. Proficiency in PyTorch and deep learning models is required to attend, with participants who complete the 8-hour course earning a certificate of completion.

Learning highlights in this workshop include:

  • How to build a U-Net to generate images from pure noise
  • Improving the quality of generated images with the Denoising Diffusion process
  • Controlling the image output with context embeddings
  • Generating images from English text-prompts using CLIP

NVIDIA DLI workshops are in-person only and not recorded for later/repeat viewing. Anyone with questions about this workshop is welcome to contact Research Computing Training Team Lead Matt Gitzendanner.

UFIT Announces Spring Research Computing Training Schedule

This semester’s Research Computing training schedule is packed with a variety of HiPerGator, Practicum AI workshops free for faculty, lab staff , postdoctoral candidates, and students.

Traditional, single-session Research Computing training options will be held on Thursdays in person and online from 10:40 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Sessions include Introduction to Research Computing & HiPerGator, SLURM Submission Scripts, and Jupyter Notebook and Managing Conda Environments. A three-day Git and GitHub workshop in March, developed by Drs. Catia Silva and Matt Gitzendanner, will feature hands-on activities with no coding background or prerequisites required.

Practicum AI is returning this Spring with two beginner course series: Deep Learning Foundations and Python for AI. Both training series are intended for participants with limited experience who want to explore using applied AI. All Practicum AI sessions will be available via Zoom or in person at Malachowsky Hall’s NVIDIA Auditorium (room 1000).

Visit https://rc.ufl.edu/calendar/ to view the full training schedule and register for any of the workshops. Anyone with questions about Research Computing training, or who is interested is setting up a custom training for their lab team or a class, is welcome to contact Training Team Lead Dr. Matt Gitzendanner.

UF Strategic Investment Will Advance Research Software Engineering and Enable Leading-edge Data Modeling 

The University of Florida will soon have a software developer group to assist principal investigators and research teams, thanks to a $2-million award from UF President Ben Sasse’s strategic funding initiative

The Research Software Engineers to Enhance/Scale Computer Research project will enlist a group of individuals to use existing infrastructure like HiPerGator to work directly with researchers on their projects. These research software engineers (RSEs) will be skilled at technically advanced tasks, including creating scientific software, developing complex workflows involving data management and curation, and offering advice on research productivity and reproducibility.  

“The creation of a new research software engineering team will further advance UF as a research powerhouse,” Sasse said. “It’s great for UF and great for Florida. Bolstering HiPerGator’s capabilities helps us attract the best researchers, graduate students, and entrepreneurial minds to the state.” 

Forming the RSE team will enable a broader scale of computational research while enhancing UF’s profile and reputation. Having research software engineers positioned across campus and based in the central Research Computing department will be highly valuable to faculty throughout UF (considering not every department or lab has staff members that can develop the advanced programming needed for today’s supercomputing environment). 

UF Vice President and Chief Information Officer Elias Eldayrie is ecstatic to elevate support for UF’s research community. 

“This investment from the university will reap benefits for many years. The kind of research software engineers we will hire is a recruiting edge to attract and support the best minds in the academy,” Eldayrie said. “This level of research support is cutting-edge now but will become mandatory to attract and retain the best, in just a few years.”   

Eldayrie added that the work performed by the research software engineers will be done in the most effective way possible, freeing up students, faculty, and postdoctoral candidates to be more efficient with their time. 

UFIT’s Research Computing (RC) department empowers research and discovery at the university. UFIT-RC provides a rich services and resources ecosystem, including designing and running HiPerGator, the University of Florida supercomputer, complete with advanced AI capabilities. UFIT-RC offers training, support, and consulting, and enables HiPerGator access for faculty from other Florida universities and within the Southeastern Conference. More information about the services and resources provided are available on https://rc.ufl.edu/ or by contacting UFIT-RC Senior Director Erik Deumens

Powering and Cooling HiPerGator: The UF Data Center

HiPerGator, the University of Florida supercomputer, is housed in the UF Data Center (UFDC). While its power and ranking as the most powerful supercomputer in U.S. higher education is well known, not many people know about the components at the UFDC that help keep HiPerGator online and cooled.

Backup Batteries

HiPerGator and the other computers housed in the UFDC, along with the chilled water pumps and air handlers, are run by high-power batteries. These batteries ensure that the computers get clear power without spikes or brown-outs. There is enough power available in the UFDC to keep all systems operating for about 10 minutes after an external utilities power failure. During those 10 minutes, UFDC diesel generators begin providing continuing power. The diesel generator and the chillers cool their water to 55F to send to the air handlers, which then cool the air that is used to cool the computers.

Air Exchange

To get fresh air throughout the UFDC and avoid sick-building syndrome, 10% of the air inside the data hall is constantly replaced with outside air, which is cleaned by removing particles and living mold and spores.

UF Data Center Generators

The UFDC has two generators. One has a horse-power capacity of 2.25 MW and produces 1 MW of electricity if the utilities’ power becomes unavailable. A second, similar 4 MW diesel produces the remaining 2.2 MW of electricity to provide the full 3.2 MW that the UFDC is rated for.

Transparent Floor Tiles

The HiPerGator room has a raised floor of about three feet. This is because the mostly empty space is needed to allow cold air to be delivered to the front of the computers. The fans inside the computers blow the cold air past the hot CPUs, with the hot air being returned through the ceiling to the air handlers in hallways outside the 5000 sq. ft. HiPerGator room.

Air Handlers

Speaking of the air handlers, they blow hot air past the radiators that have 55F water flowing through them. All 125,000 cubic feet of air in the HiPerGator data hall must be replaced twice every minute to avoid HiPerGator overheating! The ideal temperature for the HiPerGator room? It is 60F.

Even with the cooling requirements for a supercomputer, HiPerGator is ranked high up on the worldwide green-500 computing list, and the UF Data Center is a certified LEED® building. Learn more about HiPerGator here.