Equipment Award Status Report
October, 2004

Joanne K. Graham and Sandra Petrie

Unidata administers annual* Equipment Awards. More information about the history of these awards is available on our web site.

Unidata provided $100,000 funding (including overhead) for 2004 Equipment Awards. The solicitation was first announced on 1/7/2004 and the deadline for submission was 2/27/2004. The awards panel met on March 10th for a full day. The panel consisted of UCAR staff, Unidata Committee Members, and prior award recipients. The overall quality and representational diversity of this committee was quite excellent.

The panel had ten proposals to review totaling $182,959.35 before UCAR overhead, $242,970 including UCAR overhead. For the most part, the proposal quality and diversity this year was quite good. Only one proposal was unacceptable to the point that it did not warrant more than one round of review by the panel.

Funding Recommendations from 2004 Panel:

Funded with OH

University of Oklahoma

Real-time & Archival DODS/ADDE Server
$ 13,527
$ 13,527

San Jose State

Deploying the IDV & Improving IDD Capabilities
$ 23,468
$ 23,468


An expanded data storage system
$ 25,000
$ 25,000

Central Michigan

Upgrade the Hardware of the CMU Unidata Server
$ 12,636
$ 12,636

Universidade Federal Do Para Brazil

Meteorology Lab for Research & Teaching
$ 22,829
$ 2,700
$ 3,984

After review and approval by the Unidata Director, we asked a technical staff member to look at the proposal requests to see if any of the recommendations made by the panel could be scaled back. Unlike other years, it did not seem feasible to make any further reductions. As a special note, the Brazilian University was cut significantly by the panel because the panel felt that the institution needed seed money to get started with enough money to run one LDM machine and show a proof of concept before it could be considered for larger amounts of funding. The primary concern was lack of resources to install and maintain the equipment to meet their objectives. This small amount of funding will give them a good start.

Special Considerations

It is our objective to make this process as fair and open as possible, to fund projects that are part of our standard current community as well as projects that will help us to expand the community and its resources. There were a few proposals that showed ingenuity that may have done just that, but there were many unanswered questions in the minds of the panelists. The turnaround time between receipt of the proposals and the panel meeting was too short that we were unable to pre-screen all of the proposals and ask for clarification on some pressing issues from some of the applicants. Additionally, it was our hope and intent to fund proposals that were clearly written, showed a strong understanding of the criteria (and Unidata community), and didn’t require a lot of follow-up. However, we understand that it might be difficult for parties new to our community to underscore some of those principle issues (free and open access of data, sharing via the IDD, use of THREDDS, IDV, etc.) if we don’t ask for clarification. We are therefore considering the possibility of adding steps to our review effort which will allow a short period for clarification of some issues prior to forwarding proposals to the panel. This might help to expedite the panel process and give deeper consideration to some of these more forward-thinking projects.

Perhaps some discussion on this issue in the User and Policy Committees prior to the next announcement is warranted.


Paperwork to implement the awards was completed in early April. Some of the contractual negotiations with universities was surprisingly complicated and time consuming, however all of those are in place now with US universities. We are still struggling to firm up details with the Brazilian university as they are requiring we sign a contract in Portuguese (to give *them* the money). We can’t do this until we find someone who can read and translate Portuguese for us at no cost. For future awards it may be important that we set as a criteria the requirement that international groups be able to conduct business in English. This is one item that I’d like to discuss in the Usercom.

Jo Hansen is working with the 2003 awardees to write newsletter articles about their experience with these awards. We would like for the Usercom to come up with a list of requirements for those articles so that the awardees write articles that are meaningful and enunciate the importance of the awards in the broader community sense. Jo will lead a discussion in this area at our October meeting.

Overall we were pleased with the quality and quantity of proposals received, and feel that the processes for the RFP are going smoothly.

The next award round will be announced the first week of January, 2005. The date of the panel meeting will be determined as soon as the date of the next Usercom meeting is set.