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Preston Smith

Preston M Smith's Profile Photo

Executive Director of Research Computing

Prior to graduating from Purdue's Computer and Information Technology program in 1998, Preston joined the IT community at Purdue as a system administrator for the Purdue Libraries. After 5 years administering UNIX systems for the Department of Physics, Preston joined Purdue IT as a systems engineer for grid and distributed computing projects. In 2011, Preston completed a Master's degree from the College of Technology, researching a model for quantifying the costs of a distributed computing system.

After two years managing the R&D team for research computing, Preston moved from the systems side of the business to lead the customer-facing operation of Purdue's community cluster systems. In this role, Preston directs the engagement, support, and outreach to any researchers at the university who require high-performance computation or large-scale data storage. Since 2012, he has led numerous initiatives to empower researchers with tools to control their own computing resources.

Preston assumed the role of Executive Director for Research Computing at Purdue in September of 2019, and works closely with researchers and executive leadership at Purdue to provide the cyberinfrastructure to support discovery at Purdue.


  • Ph.D., Technology, Purdue University (2022)
  • M.S., Technology, Purdue University (2011).
  • B.S., Computer and Information Technology, Purdue University (1998).

Grants and Awards

  • Microsoft Corporation - Best practices for hybrid cloud/HPC ecosystems in academic cyberinfrastructure, (PI, $150,000)
  • NSF Category I: Anvil - A National Composable Advanced Computational Resource for the Future of Science and Engineering (Award # 2005632), (Co-PI, $22,392,344 (to date), 7/2020 – 6/2022)
  • NSF Building the research innovation workforce: a workshop to identify new insights and directions to advance the research innovation workforce (Award # 2036534), (Co-PI, $163,960, 7/2020 – 6/2022)
  • NSF CC* Compute: Private Campus Cloud for Data Analytics and Machine Learning (Award #2018926) (PI, $392,205, 7/2020 – 6/2022)
  • NSF CC* Networking Infrastructure: Integrating Big Data Instrumentation into Campus Cyberinfrastructure (Award #1827184) (Co-PI, $323,327, 7/2018 – 6/2020)
  • NSF CICI RDP: Supporting Controlled Unclassified Information with a Campus Awareness and Risk Management Framework (Award #1840043) (Co-PI, $598,373, 9/2018 - 8/2020)


  • Primary staff advisor for the SC07, SC08, and SC09 student cluster competition teams.
  • Program Committee, 2014 and 2015 Linux Clusters Institute (LCI) Workshops
  • Program Committee, 2006 Open Science Grid All-Hands Meeting

Selected Publications

  • Defining Performance of Scientific Application Workloads on the AMD Milan Platform. Tsai-Wei Wu, Stephen Lien Harrell, Geoffrey Lentner, Alex Younts, Sam Weekly, Zoey Mertes,Amiya Maji, Preston Smith, and Xiao Zhu. In Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing, PEARC ’21, New York, NY, USA, 2021. Association for Computing Machinery.
  • Research Computing on Campus - Application of a Production Function to the Value of Academic High-Performance Computing. Preston Smith and Stephen Lien Harrell. In Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing, PEARC ’21, New York, NY, USA, 2021. Association for Computing Machinery.
  • Managing Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) in Research Institutions. Baijian Yang, Carolyn Ellis, and Preston Smith. In SIGITE 2020 - Proceedings of the 21st Annual Conference on Information Technology Education, page 300, New York, NY, USA, oct 2020. Association for Computing Machinery, Inc.
  • The "Geddes" Composable Platform - An Evolution of CommunityClusters for a Composable World. Preston Smith, Erik Gough, Alexander Younts, Brian Werts, Thomas Hacker, Norbert Neumeister, and Jennifer Wisecaver. In 2020 IEEE/ACM International Workshop on Interoperability of Supercomputing and Cloud Technologies (SuperCompCloud). IEEE, 2020.
  • Community Clusters or the Cloud: Continuing Cost Assessment of On-premises and Cloud HPC in Higher Education. Preston Smith, Stephen Lien Harrell, Alex Younts, and Xiao Zhu. In Proceedings of the Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing on Rise of the Machines (Learning), PEARC ’19, pages 97:1—97:4, New York, NY, USA, 2019. ACM
  • Undergraduate Data Science and Diversity at Purdue University. Elizabett Hillery, Mark Daniel Ward, Jenna Rickus, Alex Younts, Preston Smith, and Eric Adams In Proceedings of the Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing on Rise of the Machines (Learning), PEARC’19, pages 88:1—88:6, New York, NY, USA, 2019. ACM.
  • Mentoring Undergraduates into Cyber-Facilitator Roles. Harrell, S., Brazil, M., Younts, A., Dietz, D., Smith, P., Gough, E., Zhu, X., Andino, G. PEARC18: Proceedings of the Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing 2018 on Sustainability, Success and Impact, Pittsburgh, PA. July 22nd-26th, 2018. (doi: 10.1145/3219104.3219138)
  • Windows-based Workflows on Linux-based Beowulf Clusters. Grant, R., Smith, S., Harrell, S., Younts, A., Smith, P., PEARC18: Proceedings of the Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing 2018 on Sustainability, Success and Impact, Pittsburgh, PA. July 22nd-26th, 2018. (doi: 10.1145/3219104.3219118)
  • There and Back Again: A Case Study of Configuration Management of HPC (Preston M. Smith, Jason St. John, Stephen Lien Harrell) Proceedings of the HPC Systems Professionals Workshop (November 2017) Denver, CO
  • Data Storage and Sharing for the Long Tail of Science (Line C. Pouchard, Boyu Zhang, Preston M. Smith, Amandine Gasc, Bryan C. Pijanowski) New York Scientific Data Summit (August 2016) New York, NY
  • Scholar: A Campus HPC Resource to Enable Computational Literacy. (Baldwin, M., Zhu, X. Smith, P., Harrell, S., Skeel, R., Maji, A.) EduHPC-16: Workshop on Education for High-Performance Computing, Salt Lake City, UT. November 14th, 2016. (doi: 10.1109/EduHPC.2016.009)
  • Self-Service Queue and User Management in Community Clusters at Purdue University (Kevin D. Colby, Daniel T. Dietz, Preston M. Smith, and Donna D. Cumberland) First International Workshop on HPC Tools for User Support (November 2014) New Orleans, LA
  • A Cost-Benefit Analysis of a Campus Computing Grid (Preston M Smith, 2011).
  • Practical Considerations in Cloud Utilization for the Science Gateway (Lynn Zentner, Steven Clark, Preston Smith, Swaroop Shivarajapura, Victoria Farnsworth, Krishna Madhavan, G Klimeck) 4th IEEE International Conference On Utility And Cloud Computing (December, 2011), Melbourne, Australia
  • Cost-Effective HPC: The Community or the Cloud (Adam G. Carlyle, Stephen L. Harrell, and Preston M. Smith.) in the 2nd IEEE International Conference on Cloud Computing Technology and Science (December, 2010), Indianapolis, IN
  • Implementing an industrial-grade campus cyberinfrastructure at Purdue University (Preston M. Smith, Thomas Hacker, Carol X. Song) The 2nd Workshop on Desktop Grids and Volunteer Computing Systems (PCGrid 2008), April 18, 2008, Miami, FL, USA
  • Undergraduate Experience in Clustering at the SC07 Cluster Challenge (Alexander Younts, Andrew Howard, Preston Smith, and Jeffrey Evans) The 2008 Linux Clusters Institute Conference, April 28, 2008, Urbana IL, USA
  • Bringing Disruptive Technology to Competition: Purdue and SiCortex (Alexander Younts, Andrew Howard, Preston Smith, Jeffrey Evans) The 2009 Linux Clusters Institute Conference, March 9, 2009, Boulder, CO, USA
  • Building a Network Simulation Model of the Teragrid Network (T. Hacker, P. Smith) TeraGrid 2008 Conference, Las Vegas, NV, (June 9-13, 2008)
  • Stochastic TCP: A Statistical Approach to Congestion Avoidance. (Hacker, T. and P. Smith.) in Sixth International Workshop on Protocols for FAST Long-Distance Networks (PFLDnet 2008). 2008. Manchester, UK.
  • Purdue Service Oriented Campus Grid Architecture (S. Goasguen, R. Kennell, W. Lin, S. Clark, T. Stef-Praun, C. Baumbauer, L. Zhao, T. Park, P. Smith, K. Madhavan)
  • Implementing a New Condor Architecture for Campus and National Grids at Purdue University (poster) Teragrid ’06, Indianapolis, IN (June 2006)
  • Implementation of a distributed rendering environment for the TeraGrid (Gooding, S.L. Arns, L. Smith, P. Tillotson, J.) 2006 IEEE Challenges of Large Applications in Distributed Environments (June 19, 2006)
  • SORCERESS: A Scalable, Extensible Real-Time Status Service for TeraGrid Condor Resources (U. Topkara, C. X. Song, S. P. Park, J. Woo, P. Smith), Proceedings of the 2007 Teragrid Conference, Madison, WI, June 4-8, 2007.


  • REED: from Service to Ecosystem, HPC Security and Compliance Workshop (PEARC18)
  • Research Data Depot - Data Services at Purdue, HTCondor Week 2016 (May 18 2016) (Presentation)
  • Big Data Building Blocks, Purdue Big Data Seminar Series (Spring 2016) (Presentation)
  • HPC Allocation Models, Linux Clusters Institute Workshop (August 2014) (Presentation)
  • Panel: Condo-Style HPC business models, ARCC 2014 (February 2014)
  • Condor Week 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
  • Keynote: Moab Con 2012 (Video)
  • Tutorial: Using Condor Teragrid ’07, Madison, WI
  • Purdue Campus Grid GGF15 Grids On Campus Workshop, Boston, MA (October 2, 2005)
  • Community Clusters Tips and Tricks. Gorenstein L, Kelley S, Smith P, Purdue University (2014).

Other Activities and Fun Facts