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Mentor–Protégé Matching Fosters the Future of HPC

While SC can mean many different things to different people, most attendees will say that the networking and socializing opportunities the conference offers are some of its most valuable benefits.  In fact, the importance of speaking with and learning from others at the conference is the driving force behind Mentor–Protégé Matching.

This program matches mentors who have a wealth of industry and SC experience with students who are just starting out their careers. This year, early applications will be accepted on August 1 while later applications will begin on September 2. 

Reaping the Rewards

For many mentors, the program is a way to repay a kindness from early on in their own careers, as well as foster a welcoming environment within the HPC community. 

Adam Hough

HPC Systems Architect and Project Manager, Shell

“Mentorship for me is just how I pay forward the mentorship that I received from Isaac and Kathy Traxler as they mentored me when I joined Louisiana State University’s HPC group,” says Adam Hough, an HPC systems architect and project manager at Shell and a former SC mentor.”

“There is a need for more HPC professionals, and the way to create more is to mentor and expose younger generations to all the HPC opportunities that are available.” — Hough

Easing the Transition

HPC can feel like a complex and daunting field to enter for newcomers. Mentor–Protégé Matching aims to ease this transition for incoming students while also giving experienced mentors a means of connecting with new talent. 

While the program abounds in stories of success between mentors and proteges, Suren Byna’s experience mentoring Jean Luca Bez during SC20 is a specific example of the mutually beneficial nature of this unique SC experience.

Suren Byna

Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, The Ohio State University

Byna is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University and a Visiting Faculty Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). He has also been part of Mentor–Protégé Matching at SC since 2015. He states that his time working with Bez was not only a great opportunity to teach, but one where he saw the distinct benefits of working with new talent. 

“I enjoy the inquisitive nature of those participating as protégés. Some of these questions remind me of situations I went through in my career.” — Byna 

“I came to know that Jean Luca had been planning for a post-Ph.D. career and was still thinking about where to join. I shared my experience with industry labs and national lab research environments. At the same time, I had a position open in my group and encouraged Jean Luca to apply. Without much hesitation, he applied, and we hired him. As expected, Jean Luca has been performing well during the past two years.”

Finding reliable talent can be a struggle, and Mentor–Protégé Matching is a great resource for meeting and evaluating the next generation of HPC experts. As a result of his experience, Byna encourages his colleagues to participate in mentorship whenever possible. 

jean Luca Bez

Data Management Research Scientist, Berkeley Lab

Bez is also quite emphatic about the positive opportunities offered by the program. 

“Suren and I were paired because of our similar interest in I/O, Storage, and Data Management and my interest in learning more about research opportunities and careers in national laboratories,” says Bez.

“We continued to correspond and interact throughout the year, and our relationship grew. His openness, willingness to help, and encouragement gave me key insights into my upcoming career decisions. I can honestly say that this experience was life-changing and helped shape my current path.” — Bez

Unsurprisingly, Bez has extremely positive memories of the program. Not only was he offered an exciting postdoctoral research opportunity at LBNL, he was also able to grow in this position and was recently offered a position as a Career-Track Researcher at LBNL. 

New Friendships, New Opportunities

Although every Mentor–Protégé Matching story is unique, the outcomes are generally the same – new friendships, new opportunities, and new ways to think about problems. While Bez and Byna’s experience showcases how important the program is in setting up career opportunities, Hough also points out that his time with protégés exposes him to different viewpoints and helps him to diversify his own thoughts. 

Of course, all three are emphatically in favor of both potential mentors and protégés signing up for the program. 

“Every year, when I talk to new students, I recommend they sign up for this program and tell them my story and experience, hoping it would spark their interest in participating,” says Bez.

“I would also add for those that are beyond convinced that this is a good program to be open and honest with your mentor and take advantage of every interaction you have with them. My mentor was kind enough to share his experiences and his story and was open to listening to my concerns and dreams.” — Bez

Get Ready to Sign Up

Prospective mentors and protégés may sign up beginning August 1, 2023. Visit their page and learn more!

If you have questions about the Mentor–Protégé program, please contact the program committee.

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