Category Archives: Training

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!

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 Certification Program

Published by:

Julian Kunkel

Why it’s needed?

The HPC community has always considered the training of new and existing HPC practitioners to be of high importance to its growth. The significance of training will increase even further in the era of Exascale when HPC encompasses even more scientific disciplines. This diversification of HPC practitioners challenges the traditional training approaches, which are not able to satisfy the specific needs of users, often coming from non-traditionally HPC disciplines and only interested in learning a particular set of skills. HPC centres are struggling to identify and overcome the gaps in users’ knowledge. How should we support prospective and existing users who are not aware of their own knowledge gaps? Most centres provide their own teaching material but most of the time it’s not comprehensive, which forces users to learn from multiple sources. How should intermediate HPC users identify content they have not mastered yet?

What it actually is?

Since there is a generally accepted set of skills and competencies necessary to efficiently use HPC resources, we propose the establishment of an international HPC Certification program that would clearly categorize, define, and examine them. Making clear what skills are required of or recommended for a competent HPC user would benefit both the HPC service providers and practitioners. Moreover, it would allow centres to individually bundle skills together that are most beneficial for specific user roles and scientific domains. Finally, recognized certificates simplify inter-comparison of independently offered courses and provide additional incentive for participation.

How to get involved?

To make sure the program becomes a community-wide and sustainable effort, we invite anyone experienced or interested in HPC teaching and training to participate in the discussion and get involved. If you are interested in join the initiative, send an email to  ( To receive the latest news, subscribe to the mailing list (

Several institutions and individuals already agreed to partner and contribute to this effort. We all will be working together to establish governance rules and work on the technical content. Our first meeting will happen at the ISC conference in Frankfurt on Wed June 27thduring lunchtime. For more information visit: We hope to see you there!



HPC Badges: XSEDE Enters the Micro-Certification Arena

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HPC Badges: XSEDE Enters the Micro-Certification Arena

Jeff Sale
Learning Design Technologist
San Diego Supercomputer Center, UCSD

Micro-certification is a means by which professionals may demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in a particular field and, if successful, receive a low-cost credential without having to complete an expensive and time-consuming degree program. In particular, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are becoming a popular way of obtaining micro-certification because of their low-cost and their availability, and MOOCs such as Coursera, EdX, Udemy, Lynda and many others are finding ways to make micro-certification a profitable endeavor.

Courses typically require somewhere between a few hours to a few weeks to complete. Courses are often offered for free, with the option of paying a reasonably-affordable fee to obtain a credential upon course completion. Because most micro-certification courses are delivered online, means for assessing expertise are typically done with multi-question exams which may be assessed either fully- or semi-automatically. Assessments requiring the learner to demonstrate practical hands-on applications are less common since they typically require the involvement of an expert to adequately assess the learner’s performance. However, a ‘peer review’ approach, in which fellow classmates are tasked with performing the assessment based on a provided rubric, is becoming more viable as a means of assessing performance for hundreds or thousands of students at a time.

The concept of offering a ‘badge’ as a preferred form of micro-certification derives from the popularity of badges in a variety of organizations and professions. Most of us are familiar with earning badges as children through organizations such as the Girl or Boy Scouts. Badges are also becoming more familiar and appealing to younger generations who played video games in which badges are offered as a reward for completing a quest or challenge. In fact, badges are part of a larger movement in organizational performance improvement called “gamification”. Badges are also common at the professional level as a way of encouraging respect and acknowledgement of an individual’s authority, such as in law enforcement (e.g. a Sheriff’s badge) and the military (e.g. a ‘badge of honor’).

As such, badges are finding a place within the corporation or professional organization as a way of more effectively engaging employees. Badges are often used as a way of ‘on-boarding’ for new employees, and as a way of certifying staff for having completed employee training programs such as ethics in the workplace or cybersecurity training.

XSEDE (eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment) is the latest incarnation of a more than 30-year old high-performance computing (HPC) community whose mission is to “substantially enhance the productivity of a growing community of scholars, researchers, and engineers through access to advanced digital services that support open research and coordinate and add significant value to the leading cyberinfrastructure resources funded by the NSF and other agencies.” XSEDE has identified the need to offer micro-certification with badging for a variety of technical areas within HPC.

Currently, XSEDE offers badge certification for OpenACC, MPI, OpenMP, Data Visualization, and Data Science. These badges are based on tutorial material from a series of XSEDE webinars consisting of 1-2 day online presentations including a considerable amount of hands-on content. XSEDE badges offer micro-certification for three different skill levels, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. The Beginner level typically consists of a low-stakes multiple-question assessment offering multiple attempts and no time limit. The Intermediate and Advanced levels will include a more challenging assessment consisting of 10-15 questions with a limited number of attempts and a time limit plus a practical assessment based on ‘real-world’ applications in that particular technical field.

The XSEDE HPC Badges are offered through the Mozilla Open Badges program. The Open Badges “Backpack” currently hosts nearly one million badges earned from professionals around the world. However, the process of submitting a Badge for inclusion in the Mozilla Open Badges can be difficult and and time-consuming so XSEDE has chosen to offer its badges using the Moodle learning management system which provides Open Badge support built-in to their interface. To date, badges have been awarded to dozens of users within the XSEDE community, and the process of determining how these badges might serve to validate the learner’s competence when looking for employment is currently being evaluated. You may attempt an XSEDE HPC Badge by visiting the XSEDE HPC Training Portal.



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

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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.

We Need to Talk—About Software

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By David E. Bernholdt, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, for the IDEAS Productivity Project

In high-performance computing (HPC) we talk a lot about hardware. In computational science and engineering (CSE), we talk a lot about the scientific discoveries and results. But the software that allows us to get those results? Not so much.

The reason is simple: CSE’s professional rewards system focuses more on the results than the tools. Discussions about software engineering best practices, how to make software more sustainable, and the interplay between hardware architecture and software architecture in large, long-lived software packages are rare indeed; it can be hard to find the time, or place, for such conversations.

That’s beginning to change, however. An increasing number of voices are speaking out about the value of software and mounting attempts to resolve the field’s issues. One emerging voice is the IDEAS project, a first-of-a-kind effort supported by the United States Department of Energy to focus on issues of productivity, quality, and sustainability and one in which I’m deeply involved.

The IDEAS project is contributing to several critical software discussions, such as the meaning of interoperability for numerical libraries and the need to develop a set of standards. We’re listening to the broader software engineering community and the HPC and CSE communities to identify and document best practices for software development in a way that makes them easier for HPC/CSE practitioners to digest and adopt.

We’re also working hard to broaden the audience for these discussions through a variety of training and community-building activities such as partnering with several DOE computing facilities (ALCF, NERSC, and OLCF) to offer a webinar series on Best Practices for HPC Software Developers. We are presenting a tutorial at SC16 in Salt Lake City on Testing of HPC Scientific Software and organizing a birds-of-a-feather session on Software Engineering for CSE on Supercomputers. If that sounds interesting (and trust me it is), you might also want to check out the Fourth International Workshop on Software Engineering for High Performance Computing in Computational Science & Engineering organized by our collaborator, Jeff Carver. We’ve got big plans for upcoming meetings too, like SIAM CSE17.

Finally, we’re trying to nucleate an online community, the CSE Software Forum, with a collection of community resources to support these critical conversations. That’s still early in development, but you can register for the mailing list to hear about events and the CSE Software site.



Submissions wanted for the SIGHPC Education Resources Clearinghouse!

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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 (

Working to Create a Knowledgeable Workforce

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The SIGHPC education chapter is seeking to build a community of educators and professionals that recognize the need for a workforce with skills in modeling and simulation, data analysis, and visualization to address pressing problems in science, engineering, social sciences, and humanities. There are potentially many pathways to that expertise: through formal courses and programs at our universities, through the training efforts of government sponsored projects across a wide range of agencies and departments, through the training efforts of community organizations, and through a variety of self-pace online materials.

The chapter hopes to bring attention to all of these opportunities by sponsoring a number of activities. Our seminar series features webinars by education and training leaders from both academic and non-academic institutions. They detail their own experiences and activities in building education and training programs for those seeking expertise across a wide variety of computational science topics. Those webinars are broadcast live using Google Hangouts on Air and are recorded for later viewing on YouTube.

Our resources links provided on the SIGHPC Education web pages ( point to a variety of educational models, exercises, and course materials and to a list of available training modules, webinar recordings, and lecture materials on a wide range of technical topics. We have established a review mechanism for adding to this list of resources and welcome suggestions for other materials to review and add to the list.

The forums associated with this site should provide another way for the community to engage in discussions about education and training activities, strategies, and examples that contribute to the mission of the chapter. Please take the time to register for the forums and participate in those discussions.

We welcome your comments and suggestions for other chapter sponsored activities that will contribute to our education and training mission.

Steven Gordon