Paving Pathways to Success through Broader Engagement

By Elizabeth Leake, STEM-Trek

September 28, 2015

Sustainable Horizons Institute and SIAM-CSE15

SIAM-CSE16-GROUP-1

It’s no secret that industries struggle to build and sustain a diverse science and technology (S&T) workforce, but entering and advancing within the pipeline are far from equal-opportunity endeavors. Despite industry efforts to support their success, women, minorities and people with disabilities continue to encounter deeply-ingrained social and institutional barriers to entry.

In 2013, Mary Ann Leung formed Sustainable Horizons Institute (SHI), a nonprofit organization designed to help students and early-career professionals overcome some of those barriers. Few are as experienced in this arena as Leung whose 20-year program development career includes five years leading the U.S. Department of Energy’s computational science and engineering doctoral fellowship program—one of the nation’s finest.

Mary Ann LeungLeung drew from experience with the Supercomputing Conference Broader Engagement (SC-BE) program to develop a BE framework to engage people from demographic groups that are typically underrepresented in S&T careers. The program’s intervention strategy rests on a foundation of sustained academic, psycho-social, career, professional, and leadership support. The SC-BE model’s effectiveness was documented in a 2012 report by Timothy A. Mann and Valerie E. Taylor (Texas A&M) titled “Analysis of the Impact of the BE program on the SC Conference.” The authors explained how a BE program increases the likelihood that participant submissions (technical program papers, posters, etc.) will be favorably reviewed. Additionally, they are more likely to engage with conference activities and committees. Ultimately, success in the conference arena will foster the confidence students need to pursue technical fields, overcome barriers to entry, and ultimately advance in their careers.

Silvia Crivelli (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory), Leung’s fellow SC14-BE program committee member, told Leung about the 2014 WeFold summer camp that she was leading. The ten-week, scientific and technical program sponsored by LBL was designed to acquaint undergraduate scholars from diverse backgrounds with computational science—specifically, molecular modeling and protein folding techniques—so they could explore ways to unlock the mysteries of a variety of diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Cancer.

“Protein structure prediction is an extremely difficult problem to solve,” said Crivelli. “Despite a 20-year competition called CASP (Critical Assessment of protein Structure Prediction), progress in the field has plateaued; only incremental advances are being made. WeFold replaces competition with coopetition, (cooperation and competition), and exposes participants to high performance computing (HPC) in an effort to accelerate the process of discovery,” she added.

WeFold Collaborative includes experts who compete in CASP. The WeFold Educational Project involves a diverse community of students and researchers from a variety of academic disciplines—some had never even worked with code—and invites them to learn about computational science, in general, and protein folding, in particular. Each approaches problems with a unique frame of reference. At the end of the immersive experience, all had submitted code to Hopper, one of the fastest HPC systems in the world. Each had created a MongoDB database with millions of protein models or had become familiar with protein structure prediction methods. Additionally, the student-participants had the opportunity to interact with experienced researchers from around the world through the WeFold collaborative project.

SIAM-CSE15-GROUPLeung was serving on the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics 2015 Conference on Computational Science and Engineering (SIAM-CSE15) program committee when she learned about WeFold. She encouraged Crivelli to submit a mini symposium proposal to SIAM-CSE15, and it was accepted. This gave Leung an opportunity to test-drive the SHI-BE model. Publicity and fundraising efforts were launched with the help of SC14-BE Deputy Chair Elizabeth Leake (STEM-Trek), Silvia Crivelli, Lois Curfman McInnes, and others from the SC14-BE committee.

The goal was to generate enough money to support ten WeFold scholars, their faculty and others who wished to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah-U.S. for the March conference. Ultimately, 40 students, faculty and professionals from 32 institutions and 21 states were supported with donations from individuals and grants from the National Science Foundation, Argonne National Laboratory, Google, LBL, and SIAM. Nine fields of study were represented, including Computational Biology, Computational Medicine, Computational Physics, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Numerical Analysis/Simulations, Operations Research, Computational Earth Sciences, and Stochastic Research.

SIAM-BE scholars were paired with an experienced volunteer mentor. SC-BE veteran Larisse Voufo (Google) chaired the mentor-protégé (MP) program and coordinated the introductory breakfast. Voufo first attended SC12 as a participant of the BE program, and has since participated on BE program committees, including SC14 and SIAM-CSE15. She led participants through a “wilderness experience” where they worked individually, or with their mentor, to craft mementos that reflected their career and educational journeys.

Yeonjoo-SIAMParticipants were inspired by the SIAM-CSE15 experience in a number of ways. Yeonjoo Yoo (IUPUI) plans to form a student chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics at her school. “The conference mentoring activity was especially helpful. Mentors gave good advice and knowing them extends the student’s professional network. In the program I intend to form, I’ll definitely include an MP program based on SHI’s model,” she said.

WeFold Scholar Rachel Davis (Drake University) was contemplating graduate school and thought a summer research experience would help inform her decision. “Luckily, Silvia took me under her wing and introduced me to WeFold,” she said. “It’s an incredible collaboration where everyone helps each other. It was mind-blowing to email (CASP) experts across the country and receive a response the same day,” she added. It was actually the SIAM conference experience—specifically, interacting with peers and mentors—that gave Davis the confidence she needed to apply for graduate school in the fall.

Participant Blake Lohn-Wiley (Tarleton State University) came to SIAM hoping to bolster his professional network so he could find an S&T position, and it worked, but not the way he expected. “I let SIAM-BE participants review my resume, and incorporated their feedback before applying for a position at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. A few weeks later, I got the job,” he said.

SIAM-Grace-Janette-600xGrace Rodriguez Gomez (University of Puerto Rico) had a BE epiphany. “When I was in high school, I wanted to major in Art at a community college. When friends and family told me I couldn’t earn a living with an Art degree, I enrolled in a Computer Engineering program,” she said. When her creativity wasn’t exercised, her grade point average suffered. She then switched to Computer Science, and her grades improved when she realized artistic aptitude enabled her to design more attractive and functional computer user interfaces. Because she switched majors, she’s a few years older than her peers. “I was ashamed of my delayed progress until I heard Dr. Leung’s presentation. She talked about obstacles she had overcome in life, and it made me realize that I wasn’t alone; it’s OK to move at your own pace.”

Mentor Elizabeth Bautista (NERSC) identified with her protégé’s struggles. She originally wanted to major in Computer Engineering, but her parents didn’t think it was an appropriate career path for a woman. Bautista eventually completed a Computer Information Systems degree, and then pursued a Master’s of Business Administration degree in Technical Management. “I now love my job, but it took bravery and perseverance to get where I am today.” Her advice to students is simple: “Forgive yourself for early errors in judgement, and take time to select a second career path if the first one doesn’t feel right. Thirty years is a long time to be miserable.”

“Feedback from SIAM-CSE15 was overwhelmingly positive,” said Leung. “Much of our success stems from the synergy possible with volunteers who have worked well together in the past. Each time we pull together, the BE model gets stronger and we learn something new. I hope our volunteers will continue to share their talent and experience so we can help to shape a more confident future for many more S&T scholars,” she added.

To maintain the momentum begun at SIAM CSE15 BE, SHI has launched a new program aimed at developing Sustainable Research Pathways with faculty, students and Berkeley Labs. The program is designed for faculty from a variety of institutions, including Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) and women’s colleges that support students from underrepresented or under-privileged backgrounds. Faculty will benefit from collaborative research and the development of long-term relationships with staff scientists. Students will work side-by-side with faculty on exciting research projects using state-of-the-art equipment. Apply before October 16, 2015, on the SHI website.

For more information about SHI, visit:  http://shinstitute.org/

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!

Nvidia Debuts Turing Architecture, Focusing on Real-Time Ray Tracing

August 16, 2018

From the SIGGRAPH professional graphics conference in Vancouver this week, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang unveiled Turing, the company's next-gen GPU platform that introduces new RT Cores to accelerate ray tracing and new Tenso Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Coding: The Power of L(o)osing Control

August 16, 2018

Exascale roadmaps, exascale projects and exascale lobbyists ask, on-again-off-again, for a fundamental rewrite of major code building blocks. Otherwise, so they claim, codes will not scale up. Naturally, some exascale pr Read more…

By Tobias Weinzierl

STAQ(ing) the Quantum Computing Deck

August 16, 2018

Quantum computers – at least for now – remain noisy. That’s another way of saying unreliable and in diverse ways that often depend on the specific quantum technology used. One idea is to mitigate noisiness and perh Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Introducing the First Integrated System Management Software for HPC Clusters from HPE

How do you manage your complex, growing cluster environments? Answer that big challenge with the new HPC cluster management solution: HPE Performance Cluster Manager. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Super Problem Solving

You might think that tackling the world’s toughest problems is a job only for superheroes, but at special places such as the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, supercomputers are the real heroes. Read more…

NREL ‘Eagle’ Supercomputer to Advance Energy Tech R&D

August 14, 2018

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has contracted with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) for a new 8-petaflops (peak) supercomputer that will be used to advance early-stage R&a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

STAQ(ing) the Quantum Computing Deck

August 16, 2018

Quantum computers – at least for now – remain noisy. That’s another way of saying unreliable and in diverse ways that often depend on the specific quantum Read more…

By John Russell

NREL ‘Eagle’ Supercomputer to Advance Energy Tech R&D

August 14, 2018

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has contracted with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) for a new 8-petaflops (peak Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CERN Project Sees Orders-of-Magnitude Speedup with AI Approach

August 14, 2018

An award-winning effort at CERN has demonstrated potential to significantly change how the physics based modeling and simulation communities view machine learni Read more…

By Rob Farber

Intel Announces Cooper Lake, Advances AI Strategy

August 9, 2018

Intel's chief datacenter exec Navin Shenoy kicked off the company's Data-Centric Innovation Summit Wednesday, the day-long program devoted to Intel's datacenter Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SLATE Update: Making Math Libraries Exascale-ready

August 9, 2018

Practically-speaking, achieving exascale computing requires enabling HPC software to effectively use accelerators – mostly GPUs at present – and that remain Read more…

By John Russell

Summertime in Washington: Some Unexpected Advanced Computing News

August 8, 2018

Summertime in Washington DC is known for its heat and humidity. That is why most people get away to either the mountains or the seashore and things slow down. H Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

NSF Invests $15 Million in Quantum STAQ

August 7, 2018

Quantum computing development is in full ascent as global backers aim to transcend the limitations of classical computing by leveraging the magical-seeming prop Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

By the Numbers: Cray Would Like Exascale to Be the Icing on the Cake

August 1, 2018

On its earnings call held for investors yesterday, Cray gave an accounting for its latest quarterly financials, offered future guidance and provided an update o Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

SC17 Booth Video Tours Playlist

Altair @ SC17

Altair

AMD @ SC17

AMD

ASRock Rack @ SC17

ASRock Rack

CEJN @ SC17

CEJN

DDN Storage @ SC17

DDN Storage

Huawei @ SC17

Huawei

IBM @ SC17

IBM

IBM Power Systems @ SC17

IBM Power Systems

Intel @ SC17

Intel

Lenovo @ SC17

Lenovo

Mellanox Technologies @ SC17

Mellanox Technologies

Microsoft @ SC17

Microsoft

Penguin Computing @ SC17

Penguin Computing

Pure Storage @ SC17

Pure Storage

Supericro @ SC17

Supericro

Tyan @ SC17

Tyan

Univa @ SC17

Univa

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This