The CCP5 Summer School in Molecular Simulation has run annually since 1989. Since 2008 the number of students attending has been seventy. The 2011 School is being held at Queen’s University Belfast, and is supported by CCP5 and CECAM. The website www.ccp5.ac.uk/SSCCP5/main.html gives full details of the 2011 school (Please register via the CCP5 web pages rather than those at CECAM). The 2012 School will run along simular lines. Although the format remains basically the same, the material is reviewed, revised and updated to ensure that students are exposed both to the basics of the subject and to the latest developments.
Summer Schools of the kind proposed here are essential both for training the next generation of computer simulators and to enable them to make contacts with their international peers. The CCP5 School offers both training (through lectures and workshops) in a wide range of subjects in simulation and an opportunity for students to meet and discuss with others in the same field. The combination of lectures and practicals that we offer is vital for training students in the art of simulation. Simulation is a practical subject and students need to learn the "tricks of the trade" as well as the basic theory. A School like this is valuable for all students but is particularly useful for students in smaller research groups which may not be able to provide the breadth of experience that a School can give.
The Summer School offers nine days (including a break in the middle) of intensive training in a wide range of molecular simulation methods. Students spend the first week learning the basics and then can choose between three advanced topics (ab initio methods, biomolecular simulations and mesoscale methods). Student poster and seminar sessions are organised so that the students can discuss their own projects with the lecturers and each other. Research seminars are also organised to inspire students by showing them what simulation can do.
We prefer students to come towards the end of the first year of their PhD. Our previous experience suggests that these students gain maximum benefit from the School. By this time, the students have begun their project and have some practical experience with simulation. They can therefore fully appreciate the detailed training that the School gives them.
The objective of the School is to provide intensive training in simulation to students by a mixture of lectures in the basic theory and practical sessions to give students insight into how simulations are performed. There are also research seminars to inspire students to see what simulation can accomplish. Student poster sessions and seminars give opportunities for all students to contribute and discuss their own project.
The School is divided into two parts: a basic course to introduce students to simulation methods and an advanced course where the students can study a particular subject in more depth. All students attend the basic course. Following lectures in the morning, the afternoons are devoted to practical workshops. These illustrate and expand on the topics covered in the lectures. They also give the students the opportunity to study the underlying algorithms for molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo and experience of actual computational work. The students then choose one of three advanced courses
- Biomolecular simulation (to be announced)
- Mesoscale simulation (led by Ian Halliday, Sheffield Hallam University).
- First principles simulation (led by Keith Refson, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory).
Each course consists of lectures and associated practical sessions on appropriate computers, including access to the Cardiff high performance computing facility which is currently a 2000 node machine. Course notes are provided for both basic and advanced courses. Other important features of the School are research plenary lectures, student seminars and a student poster session. The research plenary talks demonstrate to students what molecular simulation can do. We invite a mixture of international leaders in the field and “young stars” to give these talks. The student seminars and the poster session enable the students to show each other what they are doing. This has always – particularly the poster session – led to lively discussions. We give a small prize for the best seminar and the best poster.