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HPC Immersion Opens the Door for Newbies

The Students@SC program is meant to expose bright, young minds to the wonderful world of supercomputing. While many of these students may have a good amount of exposure to computer science in general, they often have little to no experience with high performance computing (HPC.) 

HPC would be a lonely field if recruits needed to have a high level of expertise before they began their training. HPC Immersion was introduced to SC as a way help computing newbies learn as much as they can about HPC and help them understand the many possibilities within the field.

A World of Possibilities

We spoke with Sally Ellingson, an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky and this year’s Student@SC Chair, as well as Lisa Perez, the Director for Advanced Computing Enablement at Texas A&M’s High Performance Research Computing facility and this year’s HPC Immersion Chair, to learn more about this exciting program.

Sally ellingson

Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky

Lisa Perez

Director for Advanced Computing Enablement, Texas A&M University

Starting something new can be daunting. But as Ellingson explains, the HPC Immersion program is specifically designed to help students overcome this fear. 

“HPC Immersion is a program to engage students who have never been to SC and are new to HPC,” says Ellingson. “This program helps bring in people who otherwise would not be exposed to the conference and engages them in a way to help foster their return and interest in HPC, building the community in breadth. HPC can transform all fields and being inclusive unlocks its highest potential.”

That last point is especially relevant in today’s computing climate. While HPC resources were once reserved for academic and high-level research purposes, they’ve since become more accessible to a wider range of people. Combined with tools meant to integrate simpler user interfaces with HPC machines, that means supercomputing is more available and versatile than ever. 

For instance, Perez states that she was introduced to the value of computing as a whole in junior high, using a Macintosh II computer to write a program that drew a rainbow leading to a pot of gold. Going on to earn a degree in chemistry, she learned about the awesome power of HPC and the need to spread these tools as widely as possible. 

“While I chose to pursue a degree in chemistry, I learned about supercomputers and computational chemistry as an undergraduate student which combined my passion for computers, math, and chemistry,” says Perez. “I went on to obtain a Ph.D. in chemistry with a focus on computational chemistry where I not only heavily used HPC as a researcher but also as a system administrator.”

Perez continues, “I was fortunate to attend educational institutions that had the resources to introduce programing and HPC early in my academic career. That had a profound impact on my career path. I am very excited to bring the same opportunities to undergraduate students early in their academic career through the HPC Immersion program. Participation opens up a world of possibilities in all things HPC!”

Welcoming Newcomers

SC wouldn’t exist if the conference didn’t encourage young people lacking experience in HPC to join and learn all they can. As such, HPC Immersion is designed to ensure that everyone feels welcome and valued, and that newcomers gain exposure in many aspects of HPC.

“Prior to SC, an introduction to HPC will be provided to participants,” says Ellingson. “Then during the conference, students will engage in peer mentoring, group activities, attend conference events with Guided Interest Groups, and have access to the rich Students@SC experience with lots of additional mentoring and networking opportunities. Students can expect to learn a lot, meet a lot of people, make new friends, and have fun!”

Don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from this amazingly empowering experience. Join up for the HPC Immersion program today!

Immerse Yourself in HPC

Have no fear! Learn more about the requirements for HPC Immersion and apply today!

If you have questions about HPC Immersion, please contact the program committee.

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