From Days to Hours: Researcher Speeds Up Data Simulation Process with Help of Research Computing

By Forrest Burt

“To me, education has such a profound impact on kids, adults and the world, and to offer solutions that improve the lives of children is what excites me.”

This is how assistant professor Peter Boedeker, a researcher in the College of Education at Boise State University, describes why he is passionate about his research. Boedeker’s research includes collaborations with colleagues on substantive topics as well as simulation work to provide best practice recommendations for applying advanced statistical methods in education research.

Boedeker first encountered Boise State Research Computing while preparing work based on his dissertation for submission. Prior to using the research computing resources at Boise State, he had to run his simulations over multiple computers in a computer lab. This process was time consuming and required weekend access so as to not have the simulations interrupted by students needing to use the computers.

“I would get there at 8 a.m. and leave at 10 p.m.,” he said.

If it was necessary to alter a simulation to ensure correct results, Boedeker said that he would have to go back the following weekend and repeat the process. This led to him spending multiple weekends in a row in the computer lab, running and re-running simulations.

When Boedeker came to Boise State, he requested a high performance laptop to support his process, but was referred to Research Computing to meet his computing needs instead. One of Research Computing’s HPC engineers met Boedeker at his office and configured his code right there, setting it up to run on R2, Boise State’s high performance computing cluster (multiple connected computers that run as a single system). Boedeker said this support was essential to using the R2 cluster. Solving an issue with his code was as easy as copying an error message and sending it to Research Computing.

“I could make changes to my code and then re-run right then instead of having to do it over five weekends,” Boedeker said.

This help not only allowed Boedeker to massively increase his productivity, it allowed him to meet the deadlines for his research to be submitted to the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting.

“My research wouldn’t have been ready for the conference without R2,” said Boedeker. “I was able to discuss in greater detail my research with experts in the field and attend other presentations and a training. These discussions and what I learned from the work of others have enabled me to develop new research project ideas that I look forward to getting started on.”

For more information on how the Research Computing team can assist with research, data crunching or processing needs, email researchcomputing@boisestate.edu.