June 15, 2001

Cooper wins DOE's highest honor

Dave Cooper, former AD for Computation, has received DOE’s highest civilian recognition, the Distinguished Associate Award.

The award was presented to Cooper in May by Dave Crandall, head of Research and Simulation for NNSA, in Washington, D.C., during a meeting of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC).

"I was doubly honored to have the award presented to me in front of such a prestigious group," Cooper said. "I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this award."

Crandall presented the award on behalf of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and NNSA Administrator John Gordon. "Dave has contributed a lot of ideas to the advancement of NNSA. He has provided valuable service to the department (of Energy) and NNSA," Crandall said. "He has also provided great leadership in supercomputing both for NNSA and the nation through his service with PITAC. He’s a great guy to work with."

The DOE award honors Cooper’s leadership of DOE/NNSA’s Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI), the effort to simulate nuclear weapons performance with computer models. The citation on the plaque reads: "In recognition of your outstanding leadership in high performance computing. Your dedication to developing the advanced applications and high performance computing platforms required for NNSA programs was instrumental in ensuring the nation’s security and advancing the frontiers in scientific computing."

Cooper, who also served as the Laboratory’s Chief Information Officer, stepped down from all duties as AD and CIO in April due to health reasons. Nonetheless, he continues to serve as a member of PITAC. Cooper is in his third two-year term.

"It has been a very gratifying experience because of the impact the committee has had," Cooper said of his association with PITAC. "The committee is respected and listened to as a non-partisan group."

He noted that PITAC’s initial 1999 report, "Information Technology Research: Investing in Our Future," became the basis for both Republican and Democratic budget submissions.

"When I was first nominated I didn’t know if this would be a group that produces reports that sit on someone’s shelf. But that hasn’t been the case," Cooper said. "The group remains very active and very energized."

Since its inception, Cooper said the committee’s charter has expanded to include a wide variety of information technology issues. PITAC was created by an act of Congress in the early ‘90s and constituted in February 1997 by the Clinton administration.

Through specialized subpanels, PITAC studies aspects of information technology from how access to government can be transformed through information technology to developing open source software to advance high end computing. Cooper said one of the committee’s recommendations is the creation of a chief information officer for the federal government.

Cooper said he is pleased with the progress of supercomputing, but says the scientific community has yet to fully exploit the potential of high speed computing. "Too many organizations are saying that as desktop computers become more powerful they can save money by using work stations to perform their high performance computing," he said. What they should be asking is ‘what can I accomplish with a supercomputer?’ They can do research differently with supercomputers.

"Supercomputers, for example, are very near to being able to simulate the effects of drugs on the body," Cooper said. "With many talented researchers out there, how do you gain an edge? Through supercomputing. The sciences are just beginning to realize this. I think supercomputing will have its heyday in the next couple of years."

Since "retiring," Cooper has been in demand as a speaker on computation issues. He delivered the keynote address June 6 at a symposium sponsored by Gov. Gray Davis’ office in Sacramento entitled "When the Lights Go Out." Cooper discussed the things that happen to computers when power goes off without warning. On Tuesday he delivered the keynote at New York’s Museum of Natural History on "State-of-the-Art in Supercomputing."