Get an ARC Account for Your Class

Get an ARC Account for Your Class

Instructors can introduce their students to high performance computing
on an ARC system.

Such requests have to follow the same procedures as any
researcher requesting accounts for a research project. However, ARC
has tried to simplify this process where possible, particularly in dealing
with the necessity of creating accounts for many students at one time.

The following instructions should help an instructor who wishes to give
student access to one of the ARC clusters BlueRidge, Cascades, DragonsTooth
or NewRiver. Note that access to Huckleberry is handled in a different
way, and is discussed in a separate document!

The project and allocation associated with a class are good for one
semester. In following semesters, if another class is to be given
access, then a new project and allocation will need to be set up.

In outline, creating a class account involves these steps:

  1. The instructor requests a personal ARC account;
  2. The instructor creates a project for the class;
  3. The instructor requests an allocation for the class project;
  4. The instructor submits a PID list;.
  5. The instructor goes over system policies.

1) The Instructor Requests a Personal ARC Account

If an instructor already has an ARC account, for any reason, then it is
not necessary to request a new one. Otherwise, go to the ARC
web site:
Near the top of the screen is a Submit a Request item. Selecting
this to expose a pull down menu, and there select the item Account.
The requested information includes:

  • Name (probably already filled in)
  • Are you a student? (No / Graduate / Undergraduate)
  • University Academic Department (Chemistry / Computer Science / Math / Physics / … )
  • Academic Title (faculty: Professor/Post Doc) or Faculty Research Adviser (Graduate / Undergraduate)
  • This is the Software I intend to use (just leave this blank!)
  • Select the systems you would like (Choose BlueRidge/Cascades/DragonsTooth/NewRiver)

2) The Instructor Creates a Project for the Class

Once you have an ARC account, and assuming you are a faculty member or post
doc, you can set up an ARC project for the class. Go to the ARC web site:
Near the top of the screen will be an item labeled User Dashboard.
Selecting this item takes you to a new page, your dashboard, which includes
a list of menu options on the left hand side of the page. One of these
will be labeled Projects. Selecting this item will highlight a new
menu: Projects / Add Project / – Grants …. Selecting the item
Add Project should take you to a form titled Add New Project.

Because this form is usually used for research projects, there will be a
large number of items to fill in, most of which may not seem relevant to
your class account request. However, it’s necessary to fill in all these
blanks. What follows is some guidance on how to fill them in.

  • Project title: Example: “Math3314 Class Account” (Keep this short and simple.)
  • Project description: Class account for Math3314 (replace with your course number)
  • Funding Status: X Research Not Funded
  • Researchers: Your Name Here!
  • Research Group: None
  • Departments: Your Department here
  • Field of Study: Your department, area, or field of study
  • Destination Area: Data Analytics and Decision Sciences (or any better choice you see)
  • Destination Area Keywords: Security Analytics (or any better choice you see)
  • Data Management Plan: X No
  • Creation Date: Today’s date
  • Data File Formats: Text
  • Location: McBryde Hall (Simply list your department’s building, unless there
    is actually some external data set your class will be accessing.)
  • Data Retention Planning: X Less than 1 year
  • Data Security: X None of these categories apply to this project.
  • Rights Management: X All Rights Reserved
  • Publisher: Your name here!
  • Number of Students: Estimate your class size, does not need to be exact
  • System: Select one or more of these ARC systems:

    • ? Cascades;
    • ? DragonsTooth;
    • ? NewRiver;
    • ? BlueRidge;
  • Visibility: X Private
  • Conflict of Interest Policy: X Please check this box.

As soon as you submit your project, it should appear on your Dashboard
under the Projects menu.

3) The Instructor Requests an Allocation for the Class Project

Once you have a project for your class, you can request an allocation,
which is a named grant of a specific amount of computer resources on a
specific computer system, which can be shared with others (in your case,
with your students).

Go to the ARC web site:
Near the top of the screen will be an item labeled User Dashboard.
Selecting this item takes you to a new page, your dashboard, which includes
a list of menu options on the left hand side of the page. One of these
will be labeled Projects. Selecting this item will highlight a new

      Add Project
      - Grants
      - Publications
      - Allocations
      - Allocation Requests


Select Allocations. This should take you to a form, at the
very top of which is a button labeled Add Allocation Request.
Select this button to reach the Add New Allocation Request Form.
Now we have some more typing to do!

  • Project: Math3314 Class Account (or whatever the name of your class project was)
  • Allocation type: X New (appropriate for the first request. But
    if you decide to request access to a second system, then on that
    allocation request you will choose X New Cluster; and if you run out
    of CPU time on your allocation, and want to ask for more, then you
    will fill out yet another allocation request, specifying X Renewal.)
  • Type: X Instructional
  • Cluster: Pick ONE of BlueRidge / Cascades / DragonsTooth / NewRiver
  • Please select your most recent grant: Leave this blank
  • Please select your most recent publication: Leave this blank
  • Allocation size: If you have no idea here, typical class account
    requests are between 10,000 and 100,000 units. Think number of students
    times number of jobs times number of cores times number of hours.
  • Proposal: You need to attach a short document justifying the request.
    A typical document might state “I am requesting an allocation on NewRiver
    for my class, in order to teach them how to use MPI, batch programming,
    and GPU’s.”
  • Unique allocation ID: This short string will be needed by your students
    when they submit jobs. “MATH3314” or “QCHEM” or something similar might work.
  • When you submit the allocation request, there is an approval process, which
    typically should take no more than a day or two. Once your allocation is
    approved, you (but only you) have the requested access. Now it is necessary
    to add your students to your allocation.

    4) The Instructor Submits a PID List

    Creating the project and an allocation for that project only gives you
    access to the allocated resources. Now it’s necessary to add your students
    to the allocation.

    This could be done the hard way, that is, each student could individually
    apply for an ARC account, and then notify you that they have done so,
    after which you would have to submit an ARC help ticket requesting that
    that specific student be added to your allocation. For classes of 20
    or 30 students, this will be a significant headache!

    Instead, for an instructional allocation, ARC encourages you to collect
    a list of PID’s of your students, then go to the Submit a Request
    item on the ARC home page, go to the HELP menu item, and send
    a message like this:

          Please add each of the following student PID's to my teaching
          allocation XXX.

    with the PID list included in the body of the message, or added
    as an attachment. In this case, ARC staff will do all the work
    necessary to create the accounts and add them to your allocation.

    The student account creation process should take no more than a few days.
    Each student should receive an email informing them that their
    account has been created. Now they have access to the system, and
    can run jobs that will be charged to your allocation.

    5) The Instructor Goes Over System Policies:

    The instructor should make sure that the students review
    New ARC user info
    and the user guide appropriate to their machine:

  • BlueRidge user guide
  • Cascades user guide
  • DragonsTooth user guide
  • NewRiver user guide
  • Students who are new ARC users should be informed that:

    • their account is only good for the cluster specified on the allocation
      request; if access to DragonsTooth was not requested, for instance,
      then it will not be available;
    • typically, the software used to connect to the cluster is:

      • putty, from a Windows machine;
      • ssh (interaction) or sftp/scp (file transfer), from any Unix or Mac system;
    • logging in requires their usual VT PID and password;
    • two-factor DUO authentication is required. Many students will have
      trouble with this the first time they try it!
    • If interactive computations are necessary, they should not be done on
      the login nodes. Instead, the interact command should be used,
      which requests interactive access to a computational node.
    • Non-interactive work is done by writing a PBS script that is submitted
      to a specific queue. The PBS script will need the name of your
      class allocation, and the desired queue.
    • access from off-campus requires setting up a VPN;

    The most common problem with student usage is that they use the login
    nodes for computational purposes. The login nodes are reserved for
    interactive, non-computational work. Computational work must be
    carried out using the batch queueing system. Being new, naive users,
    students will often violate this policy, which can result in their
    account being frozen.