SC22 Proceedings

The International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis

Birds of a Feather Archive

Another Step Toward a Sustainable HPC Outreach Ecosystem

Authors: Julie Mullen (Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory), Scott Callaghan (University of Southern California (USC)), Ann Backhaus (Pawsey Supercomputing Centre), Karina Pešatová (IT4Innovations, Czech Republic), Weronika Filinger (Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC)), Mozhgan Kabiri Chimeh (NVIDIA Corporation), Bryan Johnston (Center for High Performance Computing (CHPC), South Africa), Elise Degen (Queen's University, Canada), Dawn Hunter (Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC))

Abstract: The ultimate goal of outreach activities is to connect with individuals outside or at the periphery of the HPC community and empower them to become the next generation of HPC professionals. While most large centers and organizations have some outreach staff, many small HPC centers find the development and maintenance of an outreach program a serious challenge. This BoF session will gather HPC Outreach facilitators from across the community to share challenges, experiences, lessons learned and strategies for developing sustainable Outreach programs. The discussions will be captured into a shared document that will guide future community efforts.

Long Description: For HPC centers, small and large, outreach efforts take many forms; including outreach programs to local schools and communities, presentations to potential users, and demonstrations to funding agencies and foundations. While some of these activities are center specific, many outreach activities and challenges are common. The intent of this BoF session is to bring together outreach facilitators to begin building a global community capable of developing a sustainable approach to HPC outreach.

While outreach is often viewed as members of an HPC center creating and facilitating activities at science days or children’s schools or festivals, the scope is significantly larger. For the purpose of developing sustainable outreach we define an ecosystem whose audience includes researchers; students, from primary through graduate school; individuals who encounter HPC during their professional life; parents; teachers; the general public; policy makers and heads of funding agencies. To address this audience, outreach activities include programs ranging from engaging the future workforce to building support among the general public to informing policy makers and industry about the value of HPC.

It may seem a large leap from the individual facilitator focused on a school community to the HPC center director engaging with the policy makers, and a further leap to connect these individuals across a global community. However, it is only when considering the full ecosystem that the shared concerns, challenges and resources are visible.

For example, outreach activities exist for most STEM disciplines and some have been modified for HPC. A smaller number have been created specifically to focus on HPC concepts, skills or concerns. Building a repository of diverse activities allows facilitators to borrow, use and extend those activities. This sharing lowers the burden on individual facilitators, especially novices.

Another outreach example draws from interest in the “teach the teacher” model and indeed some HPC centers are developing effective educational tools for primary and secondary school teachers. Understanding how these systems are developed and what technical, policy and social challenges must be overcome to achieve success allows others to more easily implement a similar model.

As a final example, many organizations, laboratories and centers have created videos to introduce supercomputing; however. it is clear that the primary audience is the scientific community. With a different perspective on material reuse, a video addressing “What is Supercomputing?” intended for school children could be designed to be easily accessible and interesting to the general public. Such a video could be used by schools, the media, policy makers who want to build support among citizens as well as outreach facilitators.

The goal of this BoF is to bring together outreach facilitators to build community and discuss current successful systems of outreach, how they are funded and supported, how they were built and how they are used. Drawing from the discussion of successful systems, and the participants’ long-term goals and challenges, the session leaders will capture a list of requirements for the community, which can be used to determine and guide next steps.


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