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Research computing coffee consultations offer benefits for would-be, new and experienced users

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Graduate student Brett Lahner started attending the weekly, one-hour informal meetups hosted by ITaP Research Computing (RCAC) staff to help him with the bioinformatics work he’s begun in Professor Brian Dilkes plant genetics lab.

“The clusters seem rather arcane and mysterious to a person who is accustomed to working primarily on a PC and I was hoping to get some insight,” Lahner says. “Also, I want to get specific questions answered from time to time. It is sometimes quicker and easier when you can talk to someone and get immediate feedback.”

The “Coffee Break Consultations” take place from 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays at various meeting places around campus, such as Starbucks in the Purdue Memorial Union and the Venture Cafe at the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship in Discovery Park.

The meeting place is listed in advance at:

Coffee Break Consultation

Those interested also can keep abreast of the gatherings, and other ITaP Research Computing activities, through Purdue’s high-performance computing email list, To subscribe to the list, send a message from the email address you want subscribed.

In addition, information on research computing at Purdue also is available through the ITaP Research Computing (RCAC) Twitter feed, which users can follow by visiting (the account to follow is @PurdueRCAC); and Facebook page (also named PurdueRCAC), at

For more information, email

Research computing staff started the coffees in 2012 as another way to communicate with and assist users of Purdue’s Community Cluster Program research supercomputers. Faculty, staff and students who have an interest in high-performance computing, even if they’re not yet using it in their research, also are welcome.

“A lot of problems are much easier to solve, and it’s easier to teach people, if they’re sitting across the table from you,” says Preston Smith, manager of research support for ITaP Research Computing (RCAC).

Besides getting his questions answered, Lahner says he benefits from just listening to the discussions at the gatherings.

“Later, when I come across a topic in my work, I'm thinking, ‘Oh yeah, he was talking about this.’ It helps to get a sense of the context of computing,” Lahner says.

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