Category Archives: Education

News from the Educational Content Committee

Published by:

Julia Mullen

For decades the HPC community has created, published and shared education and training materials through classes, webinars, tutorials and websites. We all know that there are excellent teaching materials for everything from teaching basic Linux skills to illustrating high level application concepts, but as the amount of material has proliferated, our ability to search through and discover specific content has been compromised.

In speaking with community members during SC17, it became clear that we all seek ready-to-use materials in the form of well-designed lessons complete with explanations and working code examples, full tutorials with hands-on activities or portable training materials but quickly become overwhelmed by the huge number of sites and lists of materials. Through these conversations it became clear that we needed a plan to streamline the repositories and sort the materials in order to ease the discovery process.

As a first pass, the educational materials could be sorted based on audience type, K-12, informal, professional, academic (undergraduate or graduate student) or on topic, Linux, MPI, OpenMP, etc, or on material type, website, tutorial, code, or perhaps some other characteristic. Recognizing the discovery challenges and community frustration, but not wanting to reinvent the wheel, we established the Educational Content committee to develop recommendations for

  • Creating a single or a few repositories in order to simply the discovery process
  • The format and design of fully portable, well documented and tested code examples, and
  • Guidelines for the review and acceptance of new educational materials.

We are currently reviewing tools that focus on the discovery process and existing repositories such as GitHub, Open Educational Commons and HPC University before we provide any recommendations. To aid our planning and discussions, we have created a survey to capture the needs and priorities of the HPC Education community. The survey can be found at: link

We appreciate any input you can give, completion of the survey, joining the committee, following us and giving feedback on our Slack Channel #sighpced-content.

We look forward to hearing from you!

News from the Outreach Committee

Published by:

Weronika Filinger

The role of the outreach committee is two-fold: to create communication channels for chapter members and to promote the chapter activities and other related events to the wider HPC community.

Most of our efforts are focused around:

  • Organising a series of online seminars. The next session, given by Andrew Turner (EPCC), will be about the HPC Carpentry
  • Publishing online blog articles on a variety of topics. Some of them include: training, education, diversity, outreach, tools, events and user perspective.
  • Running the SIGHPC Education public calendar of events. We invite the posting of any events that are relevant to the HPC education and training community.
  • Publishing the SIGHPC Education newsletter every 2 months. We hope it will help us to keep the chapter members up-to-date with a variety of HPC education-related events.
  • Understanding the needs and expectations of the chapter members. To gather information from SIGHPC Education members on the potential priorities and activities of the chapter we create a survey. Please fill it out!

We are always looking for education-related contributions from across the HPC community. We want to make the seminar series more regular so we are keen to receive topic suggestions and hear from volunteers to deliver them. We also hope to make the blog as interesting and informative as possible, so please do contribute.

If you would like to be added to our slack channel, want to give or suggest a seminar, are willing to write a blog article on any of the related topics, or simply want to get in touch with us, send an email to

We want to hear from you!

News from the Workshop Committee

Published by:

Nitin Sukhija

The SIGHPC Workshop Committee has its mission promoting the interest in and knowledge of applications of High Performance Computing (HPC) by organizing, coordinating and managing in-person and virtual events and workshops. We are actively engaged in fostering collaborations between all HPC Community members at all education levels in the scientific and big data applications domain, and in facilitating a global forum for HPC and non-HPC members interaction, and in promoting opportunities for members to expand their knowledge of high performance computing.

Our committee is seeking motivated members from the computing community to help us:

1)   accelerate global collaborations and global membership diversity of the chapter by enhancing and leading exciting new HPC training and education initiatives worldwide in multitude of domains, such as Big Data, Cybersecurity, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things and more.

2)   efficiently and effectively engage HPC practitioners and professionals from all age levels to extend further the outreach of the SIGHPC Education Chapter and to facilitate development of more training and educational programs for both HPC and non-HPC members at all stages of their education and career development.

Few of our recent efforts involve:


If you are HPC stakeholder interested in addressing challenges with effectiveness of HPC education and training materials and promoting collaborations among HPC educators, trainers and users, please join our committee for furthering the above-mentioned efforts!


News from the Computational Science Education Committee

Published by:

Maciej Cytowski, The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre

The most important goal of the SIGHPC Computational Science Education Committee is to provide a high quality and open communication platform for educators, lecturers and HPC professionals. Most of the activities are organised around sharing experiences, expectations, challenges and ideas related to various computational science educational activities. We organise monthly virtual meetings to look at available resources of computational science education content, to discuss new formats of education and training, to propose and get involved in joint webinars, conference workshops and Birds of a Feather sessions (BoFs).

As an example of our recent activities, we are organising a BoF session “HPC Education: Widening Participation and Increasing Skills through Contests, Challenges and Extra Curricular Learning” during the ISC 2018 Conference in Frankfurt, Germany, June 26th. More information about the session can be found here.We are also involved in the preparation of workshops for the upcoming international conferences.

The committee is open to everyone from the computational science education community. In fact, current committee members are involved in various levels of computational science education and represent different scientific computing disciplines. This special mix of competencies not only allows us to understand the needs and challenges we – as a community – face,  but also gives us the opportunity to share and explore many unique ideas.

If you are planning a new computational science curriculum, a new teaching or training course or a hackathon, or simply want to improve materials you currently use, or are willing to share your experiences and ideas…. please consider joining our committee!!! 


HPC Education: Widening Participation and Increasing Skills through Contests, Challenges and Extra Curricular Learning

Published by:

Nitin Sukhija

At this year’s ISC conference in Frankfurt, the ACM SIGHPC Education Chapter has coordinated with a distinguished panel of speakers involved in HPC training and education efforts from CESGA, ICM Warsaw, CHPC and Sandia National Labs to bring together stakeholders in HPC education including academia, industry, government and non-profit/non-governmental organizations worldwide.

Please participate in our discussion aimed at answering the following question:

“why and how should we integrate the HPC instructional practices with the alternative flexible pedagogical and andragogical approaches that stimulate creativity leading to recruiting, motivating and retaining individuals to create diverse HPC community?”

Through short presentations followed by a panel-style discussion, the BoF aims to:

  • highlight success stories and challenges of integrating technology-based transformational experiences, such as contests and research, for increasing the effectiveness of HPC education,
  • gain a better understanding of factors that lead to successful learning; and identity development in this domain,
  • gather best practices, document opportunities for improvement and potential solutions, and
  • establish sustainable long term collaborative efforts focusing on development supporting HPC education.



The “HPC Education: Widening Participation and Increasing Skills through Contests, Challenges and Extra Curricular Learning” session will take place on Tuesday 26th June 2018 at 3:45 PM in the Analog 1,2 room at the Frankfurt Messe during ISC’18 in Frankfurt.

Everyone is welcome to attend and contribute to the discussion!

HPC Outreach: There is not a moment to lose

Published by:

Nick Brown, EPCC
“There is not a moment to lose”

I don’t know if you have ever read any of the Aubrey-Maturin books by the late Patrick O’Brian, set at the turn of the 18thto 19thCentury and describing life in the Royal Navy. Even if you have only flicked through one of the books, you will probably have picked up an almost constant sense of urgency and this is a realistic representation of what pervaded through the navy at that time – in the books much to the annoyance of the decidedly un-navy like Dr Maturin!

Why outreach matters?

Based on the modern pace of change I think this sentiment is truer today, especially in scientific fields, than it has ever been before. Certainly from my perspective there is an urgency to try and push forward the state of the art in HPC and share it, before other people’s activities supersede my work. However, I think this same sense of urgency also applies to other, non-technical, aspects of our community. Diversity is a prime example here and, whilst there are some excellent initiatives being adopted by the likes of the SC and ISC conferences, we still have a long way to go.

In my mind outreach and public engagement is also something that the community needs to be pushing, and indeed in recent years there have been significant developments here too. There are several reasons why we should be concerned with outreach, and it is my belief that a very important one is that it can help us to meet our diversity goals. Successful outreach, which encourages a wide variety of individuals to consider science, and possibly HPC, as a career can be a key tool in helping shape the future make-up of our community. But also, public engagement informs the general public of what we are doing, why it is important and crucially why we deserve tax payer’s money! I think SC had its finger on the pulse when it adopted the “hpcmatters” hashtag, but more needs to be done to share the importance of HPC to a general audience.


This therefore draws me to the heart of why I have written this blog post – we have a BoF at ISC about HPC outreach and public engagement. Hopefully from what I have written you can see that our definition of outreach is broad and covers a wide variety of areas. These include engaging with school kids about science, enthusing older University students about HPC, sharing the importance of HPC with the general public, and encouraging scientists & engineers to use HPC in their research.

The idea of the BoF is to bring together people who are doing, or interested in doing, outreach. Irrespective of whether someone is experienced in outreach, or if they are just starting out and want to get more involved, the idea is that by meeting up we can all learn from each other. Our session at ISC lasts for an hour and the plan is for this to be heavily interactive; sharing experiences of public engagement, discussing best practice and tips for doing better outreach, and exploring questions around how to ensure outreach can help the community’s diversity efforts. There will also be several demos present and time at the end for attendees to get hands on with these. Crucially these are all “open” and instructions for using them in your own outreach will be provided.

June will see the third run of an outreach BoF, previous ones having been held at SC16 and SC17. But importantly ISC will be the first time we have done this in Europe and I think we will get a somewhat different audience. Certainly the outreach BoFs at SC have been very successful and generated lots of interesting discussion, the key is bringing together the worldwide community and I am excited about the new ideas and discussions that we will have in Frankfurt about outreach.

So in my mind there is indeed, not a moment to lose, in leveraging outreach & public engagement to help improve the HPC community and shape it for the future. It would be great to see you in Frankfurt and you can find more information about the BoF at the relevant ISC webpage. It will be held Wednesday June 27th, 10:30am to 11:30am in the Pikkolo room.

If you want more information then feel free to pop by the EPCC stand during ISC.

We hope to see you there!

Computer Science Teachers’ Association of Ireland

Published by:

Ríomheol Oidí na hÉireann

Computer Science Teachers’ Association of Ireland

Stephen Murphy

The Computer Science Teachers’ Association of Ireland (CSTAI) was founded in November 2017. To date, we have over 420 members and 36 of the 40 Leaving Certificate Computer Science pilot schools have joined.

The CSTAI offers a free collection of resources for Computer Science, Coding, Digital Media, Computing and IT/ICT on a Google Drive where the members can access, download and modify for their classes needs. Examples of such resources are PowerPoints, Notes, worksheets and videos.

These resources cover from the early primary level to Junior Certificate (GCSE-equivalent) Coding/ Digital Media to Leaving Certificate (A-Level equivalent) Computer Science.

The Junior Certificate coding short course aims to develop the student’s ability to formulate problems logically; to design, write and test code through the development of programs, apps, games, animations or websites; and, through their chosen learning activities, to learn about computer science [1].

There are 3 strands to the Junior Certificate Coding:

Strand 1: Computer science introduction.

Students explore the range of uses computers have in today’s world and learn to understand the hardware and basic software which operates them. This includes learning to write, test and evaluate code [1].

Strand 2: Let’s get connected.

This strand deepens the student’s understanding of the computer as a communications tool through the storage and manipulation of data. Students also have the opportunity to identify, research, present and receive feedback on a topic or challenge in computer science that inspires them [1].

Strand 3: Coding at the next level.

In this strand, students are introduced to more complex levels of coding where they can demonstrate their understanding through documentation, discussion and feedback [1].

An example worksheet for Junior Certificate Coding is an exercise that has the student enter the appropriate code to complete a number of different Python loops. The worksheet is divided into 4 sections. Section 1.1 helps students understand the syntax behind a for-loop. Section 1.2 focuses on students working backwards from output to input. Section 1.3 allows students to practice de-bugging their code to become more resilient when fixing their code. Section 1.4 has more advanced problems for higher-order thinking.

Other examples of topics include a computer science theory section, HTML/ CSS/JavaScript sections and embedded systems.

For the primary level, there are coding examples using mainly Scratch examples that have students create their own animations. There are blocks of Scratch lessons available to our members for continuity.

The Junior Certificate Short Course in Digital Media literacy aims to extend and refine students’ ability to use digital technology, communication tools, and the internet creatively, critically and safely, in support of their development, learning and capacity to participate effectively in social and community life [2].

There are four strands to this short course:

Strand 1: My digital world.

In this strand, students explore how and why to use digital technologies; investigate the ethical and legal issues around downloading media from the internet and develop an understanding of online safety for themselves and others [2].

Strand 2: Following my interests online.

In this strand, students will explore how digital texts are published and their various purposes; they will compare how similar information is presented in different formats and explore how to represent information using digital imagery [2].

Strand 3: Checking the facts.

In this strand, students will investigate how the choice of digital media influences and impacts on consumer patterns and explore the notion of bias and influence online [2].

Strand 4: Publishing myself.

In this strand, students investigate online rights and risks, demonstrate good standards and protocols for online sharing of information and learn to cite and reference accurately when using online sources [2].

An example project for Junior Certificate Digital Media Literacy is a web quest. Students will research, create and publish a website about a topic without the need to code a website. This project is very flexible and allows multiple learning outcomes to be completed. A guide to a web quest is shown below.

The Leaving Certificate Computer Science resources are currently being created and aligned with our specification. In order to fill the gap that currently exists, the CSTAI has made links with other Computer Science teacher organisations in England, Northern Ireland, America, Australia and New Zealand to provide resources for Irish teachers.

The CSTAI places a strong emphasis on the Irish Language and offers a set of hundreds of technical computing terminology translated into Irish.

One of the main reasons the CSTAI was established was to promote sharing of ideas and resources between teachers. The resources are free to take with no obligation to contribute but we do ask if you have something appropriate to give, you do share it with us to help the CSTAI grow.

Overall, we have collected hundreds of coding, computer science and digital media examples, exercises and presentations that are shared and organized by topic to facilitate easy access by our members.  The graphic below shows the top level organization of our collection.

If you would like to get involved in this exchange of teaching resources, please email:

You can also follow us on social media:


[1] Junior Certificate Short course in Coding.

[2] Junior Certificate Short Course in Digital Media Literacy

Some example materials:

Junior Certificate Digital Media DIY Webquest

CSTAI Screen grabs

Junior Certificate For loops Python




Free “Supercomputing” MOOC starting on 28 August 2017

Published by:

By Dr David Henty, EPCC, The University of Edinburgh

Today’s supercomputers are the most powerful calculating machines ever
invented, capable of performing more than a thousand million million
calculations every second. This gives scientists and engineers a
powerful new tool to study the natural world – computer simulation.

This free 5-week online course will introduce you to what supercomputers
are, how they are used and how we can exploit their full computational
potential to make scientific breakthroughs. Register for the upcoming
run on 28th August at

This course was developed by EPCC at the University of Edinburgh and
by SURFsara as part of the EC-funded PRACE project.

Workforce, Education, and Training at SC16

Published by:

If you are attending SC16 in Salt Lake City, you will find a number of workshops, Birds of a Feather (BOF), and technical sessions relating to workforce, education, and training topics.  We have assembled a list of those sessions as a guide to those who are interested in those topics.  Of course we especially would like you to attend our chapter BOF on Tuesday November 15th at 12:15 PM where we will lead a discussion about the education and training issues important to you, and ask for your feedback in shaping future chapter activities.

One thing to note:  you must add workshops to your registration.  BOF’s and other sessions are open to all other registrants.  You should also check out the HPC Impact showcase sessions throughout the conference for presentations on the impacts of HPC on a variety of industry and research applications.

Here are the other sessions we found of note in schedule order.

Workshop: Women in HPC at SC16

Sunday 9am-5.30pm: Workshop: Diversifying the HPC Community

Location: 251-D

The fifth international Women in HPC workshop will be held at SC16, Salt Lake City, USA. The workshop will address a variety of issues relevant to both employers and to employees, specifically to identify particular challenges faced by women, outline opportunities and strategies for broadening participation, and share information on the steps being taken to encourage women into the field and retain a diverse workforce.

 Education/Career Keynote and Pitch-It Workshop

Sunday November 13 1:30 – 2:15 PM

Location: 260

This is the kickoff section for the student program.  The keynote will be delivered by Wen-Mei Hwu, University of Illinois.

Workshop: Third SC Workshop on Best Practices for HPC Training

Monday, November 14, 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Location: 155-F

The SC16 workshop will be used to highlight the results of collaborative efforts during 2016 to develop and deploy HPC training, to identify new challenges and opportunities, and to foster new, enhanced and expanded collaborations to pursue during 2017.

Workshop: EduHPC Workshop

Monday, November 14, 2:00 – 5:30 PM

Location: 251-E

The EduHPC Workshop is devoted to the development and assessment of educational resources for undergraduate education in High Performance Computing (HPC) and Parallel and Distributed Computing (PDC). This workshop focuses on the state-of-the-art in HPC and PDC education, by means of both contributed and invited papers from academia, industry, and other educational and research institutions.

Workshop: HPC Systems Professional Workshop

Monday, November 14, 2:00 – 5:30 PM

Location: 155-F

In order to meet the demands of HPC researchers, large-scale computational and storage machines require many staff members who design, install, and maintain these systems. These HPC systems professionals include system engineers, system administrators, network administrators, storage administrators, and operations staff who face problems that are unique to HPC systems. This workshop is designed to share solutions to common problems, provide a platform to discuss upcoming technologies, and present state of the practice techniques so that HPC centers will get a better return on their investment, increase performance and reliability of systems, and researchers will be more productive.

BOF: SIGHPC Education Chapter Meeting

Tuesday, November 15, 12:15 – 1:15 PM

Location:  355-D

This BOF will bring together those interested in promoting HPC education through the formal and informal activities of the chapter.  The session will begin with an open discussion from participants to solicit their ideas and feedback on chapter activities followed by a review of current activities and plans for the chapter in the coming year.

Panel:  HPC Workforce Development: How Do We Find Them, Recruit Them, and Teach Them to Be Today’s Practitioners and Tomorrow’s Leaders?

Tuesday, November 15, 3:30 – 5:00 PM

Location: 255-BC

This panel session is focused on gathering recommendations on mechanisms to expand the Cyberinfrastructure (CI) workforce via formal and informal education and training opportunities in CI, Computational and Data-enabled Science and Engineering (CDS&E), Data Science and related areas. The panel members have been selected to provide and elicit fresh, new, and controversial perspectives on strategies to prepare a larger and more diverse CI workforce that can advance research, discovery, scholarly studies, and economic competitiveness through the application of computational and data-enabled tools, resources, and methods across all sectors of society.

BOF: How to Build Diverse Teams for More Effective Research

Tuesday, November 15, 5:15 – 7:00PM

Location: 250-C

Most of us recognize that diverse teams are good for productivity and output. But do you know how to improve diversity and build a more inclusive environment? Have you ever heard of unconscious bias, stereotype threat, or imposter syndrome? Do you ever feel like you aren’t good enough to be in the community or feel like a ‘fraud’? This BoF will discuss the real effects of these three topics on the workplace, providing the audience with an introduction to each theme, how they may affect you, and how they impact employers, employees, advisors, managers, or your peers.

Panel: Experiencing HPC for Undergraduates: Graduate Student Perspective

Wednesday, November 16, 10:30AM – 12:00 PM

Location: 250-D

This session will be held as a panel discussion. Current graduate students, some of whom are candidates for the Best Student Paper Award in the Technical Papers program at SC16, will discuss their experiences in being a graduate student in an HPC discipline. They will also talk about the process of writing their award-nominated papers.

BOF: Women in HPC: Intersectionality

Wednesday, November 16, 12:15 – 1:15 PM

Location: 155-C

There are many groups that are under-represented in the HPC community, including women and African-Americans, but particularly poorly represented are those that fall into the intersection of two or more underrepresented groups. In this BOF, we hear the stories of women of different minority backgrounds in the HPC field, and the complex intersection between gender, race, sexual orientation and more, and how this has shaped their experience in HPC. We ask these women for their advice on making the HPC field more inclusive for people of all backgrounds.

Invited Talk: Bias: From Overt to Unconscious and What Research Suggests Can Be Done

Wednesday, November 16, 3:30 – 4:15 PM

Location: Ballroom-EFGHIJ

When my book Nobel Prize Women in Science was published in 1993, the legal barriers against women in academic science seemed to be fading into the past. But now we realize that subtle barriers are also difficult to deal with. In my talk, I’ll give some examples, past and present, and describe recent research on the subject. In particular, I will draw on what I’ve learned from the book that Dr. Rita Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation, and I are writing about women in science.

BOF: Best Practices in Mentoring Undergraduate Research in Supercomputing

Wednesday, November 16, 5:15 – 7:00 PM

Location: 355-D

We present, discuss, and refine best practices on mentoring undergraduate researchers. We define “best” practices as those which 1)encourage student interest in high-performance computing, 2)produce high quality results, and 3)build student interest in the field. While some might cite the breakdown of Dennard scaling as the largest challenge facing the HPC community, scaling parallel computing education is both a more alarming and challenging issue.

Submissions wanted for the SIGHPC Education Resources Clearinghouse!

Published by:

As a service to the HPC community and in an effort to help with dissemination of high quality educational materials, SIGHPC Education Chapter has established a clearinghouse of links at:

We are accepting suggestions and requests to add to this list. Links will be added to HPC curriculum or professional development materials that meet the following points:

  • The learning objectives of the materials are clear.
  • The materials contain enough information to meet the objectives for the intended audience.
  • The mathematical, computational, and scientific components of the materials are correct.
  • Any directions for installation of tools or applications should be provided, including specifics related to OS or other limitations.

If you have something or know about something, let me know! I will pass it on to the Education and Training Materials Review Committee to review.  -Holly Hirst (