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The SCinet Help Desk: SC23’s Unsung Heroes

Help Desk

Even a supercomputing conference specifically geared for highly tech-savvy professionals from around the world needs an IT Help Desk. At SC23, the Help Desk is the bridge between the SCinet team that builds the network powering the conference to the hundreds of vendors/exhibitors and thousands of attendees scattered throughout the Colorado Convention Center

Considering SCinet is the fastest and most powerful network in the world for the duration of the SC conference, this is no easy feat. Each year, the Help Desk assists SC Conference attendees and SCinet teams in resolving network problems quickly and smoothly by correct identification, complete documentation, appropriate handoff, and excellent communication, according to Karmen Goddard-Wall, SCinet Help Desk Chair, who is leading this effort along with Deputy Chair, Remy Scott

Remy Scott

Engineering Scientist Associate at Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC)

“This is where it can get challenging because this is a global conference. We have students, volunteers, vendors, and exhibitors from all around the world. Language barriers can occur, and, to add another layer on top of that, there can be miscommunications as well,” Scott noted.

Still, none of these potential challenges fazes the Help Desk team. “A lot of the Help Desk job is interacting and making connections with the people as much as the equipment,” Goddard-Wall noted. “That is the part that I personally like the best!”

Help Desk to the Rescue

New this year, the Help Desk will have its own space on the exposition floor, Booth 987, located next to the SCinet Network Operations Center (NOC). According to Goddard-Wall, there are a few top issues that can affect connectivity at SC, such as:

  • Broken Fiber
  • Incorrect Assembly of Equipment: Fiber is laid with a loop/coupler at the end or connectors are plugged into the DNOCs backwards
  • Faulty Equipment: Sometimes, it gets damaged in transit
  • For Wired or Wireless: Host has been quarantined due to a security problem

Karmen Goddard-Wall

SC23 SCinet Help Desk Chair

“There are people who love to steal passwords, insert malware, and do things that are illegal, for example, downloading copyrighted information or movies,” Goddard-Wall said.

The Help Desk team employs a variety of tools to diagnose network issues, from power meters to determine if fiber is intact to dashboards displaying all of the physical equipment, whether it is working, and if all the routing information is correct.

“A lot of times, just laying eyes on the equipment is the best way to go,” Goddard-Wall added. “If we have the volunteers, we physically walk over to the booth to make sure that the equipment is put together correctly, talk to the people involved, and see what lights are on/not on the switch.”

It is this kind of high-touch, human-friendly interaction that keeps the SCinet network humming along, year after year.

Contacting the SCinet Help Desk

If you have an issue with network connectivity at SC23, here are a few options to get help.

Find the team in Booth 987 to open a support ticket.

Contact us via email:

Check the status of the SCinet network starting Sunday, Nov 12.

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