A reflection on CANARIE’s NEP Workshop and Showcase

Project PIs and key Cybera staff converged in La Belle Province October 21-22 for CANARIE's Network Enabled Platforms (NEP) Workshop and Showcase in Montreal. All Cybera-led projects staffed booths set up in the Hyatt's Grand Foyer. Project PIs showed off their most recent demos and chatted up the attendees to the Canadian Science Policy Conference, which ran concurrently.

Around 400 researchers and scientists, granting council reps, university leadership, policy-makers, and media types took part in this conference. Over 60 speakers presented on topics like increasing Canadian productivity using science and technology, global perspectives, creating and retaining scientific talent in Canada and major Canadian science policy issues.

If Canada's science and political spheres can be said to have celebrities, this event sported a few. The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology) delivered a Keynote Lunch address on Thursday, and stopped by two of the showcase projects '€” Health Services Virtual Organization and NEPTUNE, or the Ocean Science Virtual Organization for some prime photo ops. Another name recognized across Canada was Marc Garneau, who pulled the winning ballot for the CANARIE iPad on Thursday evening.

Our workshop took place on the 21, and CANARIE organizers encouraged attendees to upset the fruit basket and mix up our table seating '€” to facilitate synergistic development across the NEP projects spectrum by sitting with folks from other projects. This was moderately successful, at first blush '€” and later proved quite intriguing, as conversations revolved around project challenges, successes and issues of sustainability.
It was fascinating to hear the PIs personally describe their projects and catch their passion for their work, as well as their concerns for the continued future of those projects. Sustainability quickly emerged as the theme of the workshop.

GeoCENS PI Steve Liang and his project team told me they engaged in some useful conversations in Montreal. Networking is a highlight at events like these.

"It was great to see other projects; you can see the benchmarks of what other people are doing and what we need to achieve, and I made some contacts," said Dr. Liang.

Other projects around the foyer included:

  • Open Orchestra duplicates the experience of playing a musical instrument in an orchestra '€” kind of like a flight simulator. There's a position for each sound, fully synchronized with a music score. High definition panoramic video and surround sound allows musicians to experience what it's like to play in an orchestra. The conductor on the screen up front can point out specific aspects, give direction. Open Orchestra partners with music schools across Canada, and uses flight simulator-type controls, three video display screens and a music stand display equipped with the score and controls. Content is streamed, and participants can record visualizations of their own playing stored in the cloud.
  • GeoChronos, a portal for Earth Observation scientists represented by Cameron Kiddle and team members, along with project teams from the Canadian Space Science Data Portal (CSSDP) and Cloud-Enabled Space Weather Modeling and Data Assimilation Platform (CESWP).

Another theme resonating through the Hyatt's foyer was the shrinking research funding pie, rumoured perhaps by as much as a third to $150 million, down from $450 million. (Sustainability is clearly everyone's challenge.)

On Wednesday, a question emerged from the NEP attendees: How can we work together to develop synergy to achieve our goals but at the same time and not dilute our own platforms? A committee was struck to investigate how to improve the NEP process to avoid duplication of efforts. Barton Satchwill and Luke Tymowski joined the committee to provide Cybera's input going forward.

Overall, one benefit of attending and listening to the designated project spokespeople describe their projects, is that I can now identify more closely with my daughters' experience being plunged into French immersion. Only this isn't French vocabulary inundating my brain, it's scientific and project terminology. Still new on the job, I look forward to speaking Cybera fluently one day soon.