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Zink Makes Cover of Red Hat Research Quarterly

Professor Michael Zink of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department was the subject of the cover story and interview in the February edition of the Red Hat Research Quarterly. Read online version of the article.

Red Hat Research Quarterly provides insights into the range of activities that bring universities, government organizations, and industry partners together to share outcomes with open-source communities. 

As the Red Hat spread described Zink’s background, “In addition to publishing and teaching, Dr. Zink has participated in several projects providing distributed systems and virtual networks for research and education, including GENI and ExoGENI (2007-2021), Cloud Lab (2014-2021), and now the Open Cloud Testbed (OCT) since 2019.”  

The article went on to say that “The OCT, a collaboration among researchers from Boston University, Northeastern University, and UMass Amherst, was recently awarded $5 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a testbed for new cloud computing platforms, combining research and production cloud capabilities in shared testbeds, as well as new features such as programmable FPGAs [field-programmable gate arrays] for cloud developers.” 

As the author of the cover piece, Heidi Picher Dempsey, began the interview: “I want to start with your interest in sensors and your secret history as an electrical engineer, which some may not know. How did you start there, and how did that grow into cloud-related projects?” 

Zink replied that “After graduating from high school, not knowing what to do, I thought electrical engineering seemed like fun, so I started as an undergrad [at the Darmstadt University of Technology] in Germany in electrical engineering.”  

Later in the Red Hat interview, Zink explained how he arrived at the UMass ECE department: “When I graduated with my Ph.D., I looked for a postdoc position. I got one here at UMass, in the NSF Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere that does low atmospheric weather observations.” 

Zink added that “We built a closed-loop weather observation system. At that time, I had worked on multimedia streaming for my Ph.D., so I got a lot more expertise in distributed systems and networking, but I also understood the engineering side. I was considered someone who fits in nicely because I knew about atmospheric sensors, and I knew how data was shipped around and processed. That was a beautiful experience for me because I learned to work with many principal scientists.” 

According to Zink, “That’s what I still do today: make those connections between scientists’ work and support their compute needs.”  

The long and very informative interview with Zink is well worth reading, as you can do by following the link in the first paragraph.  

Zink reports that he has also been one of the authors on three recent prize-winning papers: "Network Attached FPGAs in the Open Cloud Testbed (OCT)," which was a runner-up for the best paper award at the CNERT Workshop in early May; "Automating Edge-to-cloud Workflows for Science: Traversing the Edge-to-cloud Continuum with Pegasus,” which won the best paper award at the Cloud2Things workshop; and "The ERN Cryo-EM Federated Instrument Pilot Project," which won the best short paper award in the Systems and System Software Short Paper Track at PEARC22, a conference that will happen in July. (May 2022)