SC10 Champions HPC Education and Workforce Development

By Linda Barney

October 26, 2010

Dan Reed, now with Microsoft Research and a member of the SC Steering Committee, told representatives of the US Congress at a hearing in 2008 that “information technology is a universal intellectual amplifier” while arguing for the need for greater Congressional support for US investments in IT.

This is certainly still true today. Reed’s statement carries with it the idea that investments of money, people, and intellectual effort into IT and computing solutions have a force multiplier that other activities do not share: $100M invested into a telescope has an immediate impact on our understanding of the universe, but won’t likely impact our understanding of how to build more effective bridges or prevent the spread of disease. On the other hand a $100M investment in computing — and especially in computing hardware — can have a much broader impact. There are hundreds of computing centers around the world that host significant supercomputing resources and expertise that are used by a diverse community of users working in fields as diverse as environmental restoration, applied mathematics, and linguistics.

The broad leverage of supercomputing resources across so many scientific and technical disciplines is a powerful argument in favor of HPC. Perhaps more compelling, however, is the fact that researchers study phenomena using software on supercomputers that are too dangerous, too expensive, or simply impossible to do any other way. If you are trying to build new materials atom-by-atom, or need to study the environmental effects of a nuclear reactor leak, you simply don’t have other options.

2010 marks the second year of SC Communities, the body that synthesizes the programs contributing to the vibrancy and diversity of the global supercomputing community. “SC conference organizers have long understood the unique advantages that supercomputing offers humanity,” explains Boston University’s Jennifer Teig von Hoffman, SC10 Communities chair. “They also recognize that it is ultimately not about the hardware alone. We need people to enable the hardware to make a difference. Developing the next generation of HPC talent is the focus of the collection of programs organized as SC10 Communities.”

There is a great need for workforce development to attract students into science, math and computing worldwide, at the same time that research shows that the number of students pursuing studies in these domains is declining and student performance needs to improve. The supercomputing community is not immune to these shortages. As pointed out in a recent IDC study, there is a “growing worldwide shortage of HPC talent, due to an aging HPC workforce and a scarcity of new graduates in various HPC fields.”

Companies, national labs, and universities are affected by workforce shortages, but they are also in a strategic position to address this problem through science education and the special emphasis on workforce development at this year’s Supercomputing Conference in New Orleans.

SC Conference leaders are committed to innovative mechanisms for broadening participation within high-performance computing and the computational sciences. The Student Volunteers Program provides introduction and experience in the SC Conference. Student Volunteers are comprised of local, international, graduate and undergraduate students in a variety of disciplines (including Computer Science, Information Sciences, Applied Mathematics and IT), for whom the conference is an important opportunity to interact with leading researchers in technical fields.

To further encourage discussion of critical issues, a set of panels and papers at SC10 will explore issues and solutions in HPC workforce development, focusing on identifying and exploring specific skills and capabilities needed in the HPC workforce. The conference will also cover new and existing approaches to increase the skilled workforce, as well as the trends and forces shaping HPC workforce needs, education and training approaches over the next 5 and 10 years.

Because it is so broadly applicable, supercomputing in particular benefits from the broadest possible set of points of view and backgrounds among its practitioners. This means providing opportunities and support to emerging leaders and groups who historically have not had a strong presence in HPC. These include women, students and early-career professionals from under-represented groups and international attendees.

The Broader Engagement Program provides competitive grants to support travel to and participation in the SC10 Technical Program by members of under-represented groups. Participants go on to provide leadership in SC Committees and show excellence in SC technical sessions, such as SC posters and the Doctoral Showcase.

As part of the Broader Engagement Program, the SC10 Student Job Fair will be held during the conference. At the SC09 Fair, over 100 students met representatives from government and private industry, research labs, academic institutions and recruiting agencies to discuss research and employment opportunities, co-ops and internships.

Shannon Steinfadt is a recently hired engineer who attended SC08 with help from the Broader Engagement Program. In talking about the program’s impact on her career she says, “The cooperative environment, social events, mentorship and tours of the exhibitor hall were so helpful in boosting my confidence. The program enabled me to really participate, and not just observe what could have been an overwhelming experience. I felt that I was taken care of by the Broader Engagement Program.” Shannon also found the 2008 Job Fair valuable. She was contacted by four national laboratories based on the resume she distributed at the Job Fair, and is now part of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The future of our planet, and the quality of life for all life living on it, may well depend upon how well we address the challenges we face today. Short-term efforts and special projects can win individual battles, but in order to win the war we must capture the world’s best and brightest minds for science, engineering, and computing.

The Education Program introduces supercomputing and computational tools, resources, and methods to K-12 educators, and helps them to integrate computational techniques into the classroom. During SC10, the Education Program will host a four-day intensive program that immerses participants in high-performance computing, networking, storage and analysis. The program offers mentorship, focused hands-on tutorials, formal and informal opportunities to interact with other SC communities and exhibitors.

Although engaging K-12 students is critical to the continued long-term health of the global science community, the immense opportunities to capture students further along in their studies must not be ignored.

The Student Cluster Competition is a joint effort between the SC10 Technical Program and SC10 Communities. Teams consisting of six undergraduate students showcase the amazing power of clusters and the ability to utilize open source software to solve interesting and important problems. They compete in real-time on the exhibit floor to run a workload of real-world applications on clusters of their own. According to Hai Ah Nam, SC10 Technical Program Student Cluster Competition Co-Chair and an alumnus of the SC Broader Engagement program, “Student Cluster Competition teams come from Taiwan, Russia and the United States with team sponsors such as AMD, Atlantic Computing, Cray, Dell, HP, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Mellanox, and Microsoft.”

Prior to the competition, teams work with their advisor and vendor partners to design and build a cutting-edge commercially available small cluster. Teams must also learn open source competition applications and are encouraged to enlist the help of domain specialists.

Doug Smith, advisor for the team at the University of Colorado Boulder, has used the SC Student Cluster Competition to build the undergraduate curriculum at his institute for HPC courses. “Our team is a very grass-roots effort,” he explains. “We take students from any major regardless of past experience. The majority of our students come from computer science or one of the other engineering disciplines. However, we have had some past students from applied math, physics and astronomy. We will have a team of six undergrads at the SC10 competition. We are being sponsored by the University of Colorado, Lockheed Martin and the HP Advisory Council and our hardware will be based on Dell/AMD/Mellanox. I think of the Student Cluster Competition as the Formula 1 race of the computer industry.”

The SC conference series has a long history of fostering HPC/science education and workforce development. National labs and large research centers with significant interests in education, outreach and training have collaborated with SC Communities, spearheading special projects and programs to foster the development of its leaders and participants.

“The global computing community’s continued success in applying supercomputing to the great challenges of our time depends in good measure on bringing new people and ideas into the HPC fold; there is no better place to make that happen than SC10,” says Teig von Hoffman. “HPC and advanced networking have become a critical component of a growing worldwide cyber infrastructure and it is important for that same global diversity to be reflected in the HPC community.”

About the Author

Linda Barney owns Barney and Associates, a technical, marketing writing and Web firm in Beaverton, Oregon, that provides writing and Web content for the high tech, government, medical and scientific communities. Readers can reach her at linda@barneyassoc.com.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

US Exascale Computing Update with Paul Messina

December 8, 2016

Around the world, efforts are ramping up to cross the next major computing threshold with machines that are 50-100x more performant than today’s fastest number crunchers.  Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Weekly Twitter Roundup (Dec. 8, 2016)

December 8, 2016

Here at HPCwire, we aim to keep the HPC community apprised of the most relevant and interesting news items that get tweeted throughout the week. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

Qualcomm Targets Intel Datacenter Dominance with 10nm ARM-based Server Chip

December 8, 2016

Claiming no less than a reshaping of the future of Intel-dominated datacenter computing, Qualcomm Technologies, the market leader in smartphone chips, announced the forthcoming availability of what it says is the world’s first 10nm processor for servers, based on ARM Holding’s chip designs. Read more…

By Doug Black

Which Schools Produce the Top Coders in the World?

December 8, 2016

Ever wonder which universities worldwide produce the best coders? The answers may surprise you, at least as judged by the results of a competition posted yesterday on the HackerRank blog. Read more…

By John Russell

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. The pilots, supported in part by DOE exascale funding, not only seek to do good by advancing cancer research and therapy but also to advance deep learning capabilities and infrastructure with an eye towards eventual use on exascale machines. Read more…

By John Russell

DDN Enables 50TB/Day Trans-Pacific Data Transfer for Yahoo Japan

December 6, 2016

Transferring data from one data center to another in search of lower regional energy costs isn’t a new concept, but Yahoo Japan is putting the idea into transcontinental effect with a system that transfers 50TB of data a day from Japan to the U.S., where electricity costs a quarter of the rates in Japan. Read more…

By Doug Black

Infographic Highlights Career of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

December 5, 2016

Dr. Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an early pioneer of computer science and one of the most famous women achievers in a field dominated by men. Read more…

By Staff

Ganthier, Turkel on the Dell EMC Road Ahead

December 5, 2016

Who is Dell EMC and why should you care? Glad you asked is Jim Ganthier’s quick response. Ganthier is SVP for validated solutions and high performance computing for the new (even bigger) technology giant Dell EMC following Dell’s acquisition of EMC in September. In this case, says Ganthier, the blending of the two companies is a 1+1 = 5 proposition. Not bad math if you can pull it off. Read more…

By John Russell

US Exascale Computing Update with Paul Messina

December 8, 2016

Around the world, efforts are ramping up to cross the next major computing threshold with machines that are 50-100x more performant than today’s fastest number crunchers.  Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. The pilots, supported in part by DOE exascale funding, not only seek to do good by advancing cancer research and therapy but also to advance deep learning capabilities and infrastructure with an eye towards eventual use on exascale machines. Read more…

By John Russell

Ganthier, Turkel on the Dell EMC Road Ahead

December 5, 2016

Who is Dell EMC and why should you care? Glad you asked is Jim Ganthier’s quick response. Ganthier is SVP for validated solutions and high performance computing for the new (even bigger) technology giant Dell EMC following Dell’s acquisition of EMC in September. In this case, says Ganthier, the blending of the two companies is a 1+1 = 5 proposition. Not bad math if you can pull it off. Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Launches Massive 100 Petabyte ‘Sneakernet’

December 1, 2016

Amazon Web Services now offers a way to move data into its cloud by the truckload. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

Seagate-led SAGE Project Delivers Update on Exascale Goals

November 29, 2016

Roughly a year and a half after its launch, the SAGE exascale storage project led by Seagate has delivered a substantive interim report – Data Storage for Extreme Scale. Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Sees Bright Future for AI Supercomputing

November 23, 2016

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia made a strong showing at SC16 in Salt Lake City last week. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE-SGI to Tackle Exascale and Enterprise Targets

November 22, 2016

At first blush, and maybe second blush too, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) purchase of SGI seems like an unambiguous win-win. SGI’s advanced shared memory technology, its popular UV product line (Hanna), deep vertical market expertise, and services-led go-to-market capability all give HPE a leg up in its drive to remake itself. Bear in mind HPE came into existence just a year ago with the split of Hewlett-Packard. The computer landscape, including HPC, is shifting with still unclear consequences. One wonders who’s next on the deal block following Dell’s recent merger with EMC. Read more…

By John Russell

Why 2016 Is the Most Important Year in HPC in Over Two Decades

August 23, 2016

In 1994, two NASA employees connected 16 commodity workstations together using a standard Ethernet LAN and installed open-source message passing software that allowed their number-crunching scientific application to run on the whole “cluster” of machines as if it were a single entity. Read more…

By Vincent Natoli, Stone Ridge Technology

IBM Advances Against x86 with Power9

August 30, 2016

After offering OpenPower Summit attendees a limited preview in April, IBM is unveiling further details of its next-gen CPU, Power9, which the tech mainstay is counting on to regain market share ceded to rival Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Beats Azure to K80 General Availability

September 30, 2016

Amazon Web Services has seeded its cloud with Nvidia Tesla K80 GPUs to meet the growing demand for accelerated computing across an increasingly-diverse range of workloads. The P2 instance family is a welcome addition for compute- and data-focused users who were growing frustrated with the performance limitations of Amazon's G2 instances, which are backed by three-year-old Nvidia GRID K520 graphics cards. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Exascale Computing Project Awards $39.8M to 22 Projects

September 7, 2016

The Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) hit an important milestone today with the announcement of its first round of funding, moving the nation closer to its goal of reaching capable exascale computing by 2023. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Think Fast – Is Neuromorphic Computing Set to Leap Forward?

August 15, 2016

Steadily advancing neuromorphic computing technology has created high expectations for this fundamentally different approach to computing. Read more…

By John Russell

ARM Unveils Scalable Vector Extension for HPC at Hot Chips

August 22, 2016

ARM and Fujitsu today announced a scalable vector extension (SVE) to the ARMv8-A architecture intended to enhance ARM capabilities in HPC workloads. Fujitsu is the lead silicon partner in the effort (so far) and will use ARM with SVE technology in its post K computer, Japan’s next flagship supercomputer planned for the 2020 timeframe. This is an important incremental step for ARM, which seeks to push more aggressively into mainstream and HPC server markets. Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Debuts Power8 Chip with NVLink and Three New Systems

September 8, 2016

Not long after revealing more details about its next-gen Power9 chip due in 2017, IBM today rolled out three new Power8-based Linux servers and a new version of its Power8 chip featuring Nvidia’s NVLink interconnect. Read more…

By John Russell

Vectors: How the Old Became New Again in Supercomputing

September 26, 2016

Vector instructions, once a powerful performance innovation of supercomputing in the 1970s and 1980s became an obsolete technology in the 1990s. But like the mythical phoenix bird, vector instructions have arisen from the ashes. Here is the history of a technology that went from new to old then back to new. Read more…

By Lynd Stringer

Leading Solution Providers

US, China Vie for Supercomputing Supremacy

November 14, 2016

The 48th edition of the TOP500 list is fresh off the presses and while there is no new number one system, as previously teased by China, there are a number of notable entrants from the US and around the world and significant trends to report on. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Silicon Photonics Chip, Previews Next-Gen Phi for AI

August 18, 2016

At the Intel Developer Forum, held in San Francisco this week, Intel Senior Vice President and General Manager Diane Bryant announced the launch of Intel's Silicon Photonics product line and teased a brand-new Phi product, codenamed "Knights Mill," aimed at machine learning workloads. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU Benchmarking: Haswell Versus POWER8

June 2, 2015

With OpenPOWER activity ramping up and IBM’s prominent role in the upcoming DOE machines Summit and Sierra, it’s a good time to look at how the IBM POWER CPU stacks up against the x86 Xeon Haswell CPU from Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Dell EMC Engineers Strategy to Democratize HPC

September 29, 2016

The freshly minted Dell EMC division of Dell Technologies is on a mission to take HPC mainstream with a strategy that hinges on engineered solutions, beginning with a focus on three industry verticals: manufacturing, research and life sciences. "Unlike traditional HPC where everybody bought parts, assembled parts and ran the workloads and did iterative engineering, we want folks to focus on time to innovation and let us worry about the infrastructure," said Jim Ganthier, senior vice president, validated solutions organization at Dell EMC Converged Platforms Solution Division. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Beyond von Neumann, Neuromorphic Computing Steadily Advances

March 21, 2016

Neuromorphic computing – brain inspired computing – has long been a tantalizing goal. The human brain does with around 20 watts what supercomputers do with megawatts. And power consumption isn’t the only difference. Fundamentally, brains ‘think differently’ than the von Neumann architecture-based computers. While neuromorphic computing progress has been intriguing, it has still not proven very practical. Read more…

By John Russell

Container App ‘Singularity’ Eases Scientific Computing

October 20, 2016

HPC container platform Singularity is just six months out from its 1.0 release but already is making inroads across the HPC research landscape. It's in use at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), where Singularity founder Gregory Kurtzer has worked in the High Performance Computing Services (HPCS) group for 16 years. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Micron, Intel Prepare to Launch 3D XPoint Memory

August 16, 2016

Micron Technology used last week’s Flash Memory Summit to roll out its new line of 3D XPoint memory technology jointly developed with Intel while demonstrating the technology in solid-state drives. Micron claimed its Quantx line delivers PCI Express (PCIe) SSD performance with read latencies at less than 10 microseconds and writes at less than 20 microseconds. Read more…

By George Leopold

D-Wave SC16 Update: What’s Bo Ewald Saying These Days

November 18, 2016

Tucked in a back section of the SC16 exhibit hall, quantum computing pioneer D-Wave has been talking up its new 2000-qubit processor announced in September. Forget for a moment the criticism sometimes aimed at D-Wave. This small Canadian company has sold several machines including, for example, ones to Lockheed and NASA, and has worked with Google on mapping machine learning problems to quantum computing. In July Los Alamos National Laboratory took possession of a 1000-quibit D-Wave 2X system that LANL ordered a year ago around the time of SC15. Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This