Virtual Workshop: Toward a globally acknowledged and free HPC Certification

by Weronika Filinger

The HPC Certification Forum has been around for almost 2 years now so it’s only natural that the scope of its activities is beginning to shift from the necessary groundwork towards an actual certification. Although a lot still needs to be done in terms of refining the skill description, identifying the gaps in the defined skills, and creating a sufficiently big poll of examination questions, it is crucial now to get more support from the HPC education and training community. For the HPC Certification to work as envisioned, it needs to be recognised, and we believe that for that to happen it must be a community driven effort. 

Normally, the Forum meets face-to-face twice a year – at ISC and SC conferences. The ISC meeting had to be cancelled due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, and so the Forum decided to hold a virtual workshop in mid May. To make it possible for the international members from the regions of  America, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand to participate, two sessions were organised. The presentations, besides the introduction – providing the context, and the last talk – focusing on the certification process, included talks from both organisations that already collaborate with the Forum and those who would like to do so in the future. 

The first session, aimed at the US and European audience, was held on Monday 18th May at 3-6pm BST. The presentations included: About the HPC Certification Forum (presented by Julian Kunkel), Engaging Communities to Build HPC Certification: Lessons Learned (by Julie Mullen), Best Practices for Performance Engineering Training (by Bernd Mohr), The Supercomputing Academy (by Micheal Resch), Towards building an HPC workforce in Africa (by Bryan Johnston) and finally, Certification strategy and contributions (by Christian Meesters). The talks were followed by  a general discussion. 

The second session was aimed at the European and Asian-Pacific attendees and happened on May 20th at 9-11am BST. Although, some of the talks were repeated from the previous session, there were also two new presentations: Untapped potential: adopting HPC Carpentry in AU/NZ (by Megan Guidry) and Training and Curriculum Development for International HPC Certification (by Lev Lafayette). Again, these were followed by a general discussion. 

The main aim of the workshop was to verify that the adopted approaches fulfill the Forum’s  goals, and are well received by the HPC education and training community. The discussed processes were well received, and the presentations of the external speakers showed the interest in the joint effort toward worldwide certification and the skill mapping. The attendees were particularly interested in ensuring that the certification remains free (and linked to free training materials), to support trainers, educators and practitioners from countries with less financial strength. 

During the discussion it became clear that the governance policies and technical solutions should be documented more clearly. In particular, the process of contributing (including importing from other sources), selecting and curating the exam questions has to be well defined. To make the progress more transparent the Forum will consider maintaining a roadmap.

Overall, the workshop was successful – over 150 individuals registered their interest and about 50 of them attended one of the sessions. For more information about the workshop – including the abstract and slides of each presentation, and recordings from both sessions – visit the event page.   

If you are interested in the efforts of the International HPC Certification Forum, or know someone who may be, please reach out to us.

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