[macs-faculty] MACS site visit, Oct 6-7

Mayank Varia varia at bu.edu
Tue Aug 23 17:59:37 EDT 2016

Re-sending this email to everyone due to the low response rate. Please make
sure to:

- Block off Oct 6-7 on your calendar for the MACS site visit
- Email Ran and me about good topics for site visit presentations &
posters, as well as talks for our next PI meeting on Sept 9.


On Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 3:27 PM Mayank Varia <varia at bu.edu> wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> In this email I will describe what we know so far about the MACS site
> visit. I apologize in advance for the length of this email; please read the
> whole thing anyway! I only have one action item for you right now: please
> email Ran and me with the question I ask at the very end.
> *Logistics*
> The site visit is on October 6-7 at the Castle at BU (225 Bay State Rd,
> Boston, MA 02215
> <https://www.bu.edu/meetatbu/explore-our-facilities/campus-venues/castle/>),
> the same place as the kickoff meeting two years ago. We will begin at 8am
> on each day. The first day is going to run very long (I'll explain why
> below). The second day will be 'normal'; we might be done with our
> obligation by ~lunchtime, and certainly by the end of the normal business
> day.
> *Purpose*
> The site visit is the biggest opportunity for NSF to learn about our
> project so that they can advocate to their management why we merit
> continued funding. As such, it has huge sway upon the future of our
> project. The panelists themselves provide technical guidance towards
> NSF's decision-making. During the site visit, the NSF panelists will write a
> report summarizing their thoughts about our project.
> The overriding question that NSF wants to know from us is why we should be
> awarded one Frontier grant rather than ~5-6 Mediums. To use the cliche: why
> is the total effort greater than the sum of its parts?
> *Attendance*
> *External panel:* There will be 3 NSF employees from the first visit
> (Nina, Anita, Tim) plus maybe 1 more. Also, ~5-7 senior faculty members
> from other institutions will be visiting as well. We will learn the
> identities of the panelists about a week before the site visit.
> *Faculty:* This is a formal project event, so NSF expects all faculty on
> the grant to be there. (Yes, I admit it will mostly be boring, but no, you
> still cannot leave. Bring a book.) If you have to leave for a few hours for
> an official responsibility such as teaching, that's fine, but please make
> every effort to be present for as long as possible. For non-BU faculty: let
> me know if you need a parking permit here.
> Nina says that it is "frightfully embarrassing" (her words) if team
> members don't show up; our panelists are taking time to visit Boston, so we
> should be there too. There have been Frontier projects in the past that had
> poor attendance, resulting in an 'incomplete' evaluation and the need to
> hold another site visit. Let's not do that!
> *Postdocs:* I'll let you decide this on a case-by-case basis. Postdocs
> should probably be present for the morning of Oct 6. They're not essential
> throughout the event, but it may be a good learning experience for them.
> *Students:* Please invite 1-2 students to attend the poster session
> during lunch on Oct 6. Otherwise, they should stay away.
> *Agenda*
> The first day (Oct 6) features 4 talks by the PIs on our research,
> leadership/collaboration, education/outreach, and future activities.
> Additionally, we will have a poster session during lunch for the panel to
> talk to students/postdocs directly about their work. The rest of the
> business day is reserved for the panelists to talk amongst themselves and
> write their report.
> By 5pm on the first day, the panel will prepare a written list of ~7-10
> questions for us. We must be able to respond to their questions by 8am on
> the second day! So: it will be a long evening for us (sorry!).
> Here's the full agenda for day 1.
>    - 8 - 8:30: Project overview
>    - 8:30 - 10: Summary of research
>    - 10 - 10:30: Break/panel discussion
>    - 10:30 - 12: Leadership and collaboration, knowledge transfer,
>    technical outreach
>    - 12 - 1:30: Lunch + poster session
>    - 1:30 - 2: Panel discussion
>    - 2 - 3: Education and outreach
>    - 3 - 3:30: Future directions
>    - 3:30 - 5: Panel discussion, eventually producing a set of questions
>    for us
>    - 5 - ?: We prepare responses to the questions
> The sole purpose of the second day (Oct 7) is for the panel to prepare
> their report. We will begin by addressing their questions (say 8-10am?),
> and then they will adjourn to a separate space to write, possibly asking us
> additional questions as needed. They will be writing until 5pm, but perhaps
> they will release us sooner than that.
> *Topics*
> It is patently impossible to explain all of our research activities in a
> 1.5 hour talk, and only slightly easier to describe all of the
> collaboration/outreach/future plans in their respective time slots. So,
> please think about the topics that you feel relate best to our project's
> overriding themes of (1) composable security across different layers of the
> cloud and (2) connecting the theory and practice of designing secure
> systems.
> The scope of the talks is broad; anything that you and/or your students
> have done throughout the entire 2 years is fair game. Additionally, if
> you gave a talk at last year's site visit and the panelists liked it,
> please give the talk again! No need to worry about repetition.
> Please send Ran and me an email describing any topics that you feel merit:
> *1. A presentation on Oct 6.*
> Remember that time is short! There will likely only be ~10 minutes to
> cover each topic, and it might be the case that Ran describes many of the
> research efforts himself to save on transitions.
> *2. A poster that your students/postdocs could describe during lunch on
> Oct 6.*
> Please choose ideas based both on topic relevancy and your thoughts on
> whether the students will be good ambassadors for our project.
> *3. A presentation at the PI meeting on Sept 9.*
> We will use the PI meeting to prepare for the site visit, so pick topics
> that you feel the rest of the group should know in order to present a
> unified front at the site visit itself. Additionally, if you have postdocs
> who haven't spoken yet at a PI meeting, get them to speak at this one.
> Thanks,
> Mayank
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