|19 Apr 2016|
A World Community Grid volunteer tells us why he donates his unused computing power to research and how he recruits new volunteers.
Mark McCaskill is a public sector planner living in the southern United States. He is a foreign language enthusiast, and like many parents of young children, he is deeply involved in their sports and other activities. He has also been a World Community Grid volunteer since 2008.
"I participated in SETI@Home, so I was familiar with the concept of volunteer computing," he says. "Years later, when I heard about World Community Grid's projects related to cancer, sustainable energy, and similar studies, I realized that donating unused computer time can contribute to the public good."
While Mark participates in all of World Community Grid's projects, the Clean Energy Project and Computing for Clean Water particularly appealed to him because of his background in science and engineering. He explains, “Many of these projects wouldn't be undertaken without World Community Grid, because the cost of data processing for this type of research is so high that no business would want to take it on. World Community Grid broadly distributes some of the costs of data processing, and this saves research dollars.”
Mark created a World Community Grid team in 2010, and has recruited other volunteers through face-to-face conversations and social media efforts. "I can't take credit for recruiting everyone on the team, because once a few people joined, these new team members started their own recruiting efforts and we've grown from there." As of April 2016, Mark's team has 72 members who have collectively donated 135 years of computing time. "Many people have concerns about computer security," he says. "I explain to them that their computer determines all contact with World Community Grid, and that IBM handles all the security. Just as most people are used to downloading a song or a movie from a trusted service, they can trust World Community Grid."
Ultimately, Mark is convinced that his participation in World Community Grid helps scientific advancement. "These researchers are top-notch scientists who need extra computing muscle to help crunch numbers for real research. They are trying to get results, find cures and publish papers. From an economic perspective, research and knowledge are a public good, but they may be under-provided in our system, so this is my way to contribute.”
Not a volunteer yet? Join Mark and thousands of other World Community grid members who are helping accelerate scientific research.