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Women get their hands on HPC

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On 25 and 26 May, just before the opening of the Prace Scientific and Industrial Conference in Dublin, an unusual 1.5 day training course will take place to provide a general introduction to High Performance Computing (HPC) using the UK’s national HPC service, Archer, as the platform for exercises.

What makes this ‘Hands on Introduction to HPC’ training session different is that all the training staff will be women.  The short course, which is offered in collaboration with the Women in HPC network, is open to everyone interested in using HPC, but it is particularly hoped that it will provide an opportunity for women to network and build collaborations as well as learning new skills for a challenging and rewarding career in HPC.

Familiarity with desktop computers is presumed but no programming or HPC experience is required. Programmers can however gain extra benefit from the course as source code for all the practicals will be provided.

In February, Tom Wilkie reported for Scientific Computing World’s website on several initiatives to counter the widespread impression that scientific computing is the preserve of nerdy men – appropriate moves given that this year is the bicentenary of the birth of Ada Lovelace, widely regarded as having devised the first computable algorithm and thus as the world’s first computer programmer.

Earlier this month, Alison Kennedy, executive director of the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC) in Scotland, and a member of the board of directors of Prace discussed how HPC is too important to be left to men. But she also warned that rectifying the gender imbalance was a complex and subtle undertaking and that women’s self-help will not be enough to overcome the challenge of XXscale in the HPC industry.

The course in Dublin is being run by the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC), as part of Archer. It is organised in collaboration with EPCC's Prace Advanced Training Centre (PATC) and in collaboration with Women in HPC. Archer, the UK's national supercomputing service, already offers training in software development and high-performance computing to scientists and researchers across the UK.

PATC courses are available free of charge to all attendees (academic and industrial). Lunches and refreshments will be provided. Intending participants need to register separately from PraceDays15 using the course’s online form.

PraceDays15 will open immediately after the close of the workshop and so the venue is different on each of the two days, in order to provide attendees with the opportunity to attend the PraceDays15 opening session immediately after the close of the training session on the Tuesday. On the first day, the training will be run at the Ballsbridge Hotel where many conference attendees will be staying, and on day two the training will continue at the Aviva Stadium Conference Centre, less than 10 minutes’ walk from the Ballsbridge hotel.

PraceDays15 brings together experts from academia and industry who will present their advances in HPC-supported science and engineering. To attend the conference, registration needs to be completed separately at http://www.prace-ri.eu/pracedays15/