My adventure as SCinet student volunteer

Guest post by: Anja Gerbes, Center for Scientific Computing, Frankfurt, Germany

I attended SC17 in Denver as a first-time SCinet Student and it was very exciting to learn so many new things in the field of High Performance Computing (HPC). I was responsible for the fibers and, because it was my first-time as a SCinet Student I had to learn how to set the fiber optic cable in protective walls. But let me briefly describe my background.

My scientific career begun long time ago as a undergraduate student in computer science. During my studies I gained interest in HPC. I chose performance analysis and optimization as a research topic for my master thesis. This rose my interests in going deeper in the field of HPC and compiler optimization. I found my way in working in this fascinating research field also thanks to good assistance from my friend and advisor Julian Kunkel. Based on the positive impact throughput my scientific career starting from my master thesis and towards my PhD application, I advise other young scientists to approach potential mentors from senior researchers in the field and seek their advise.

I was also introduced the HPC community and advised to participate in the mustattend events in the high performance community: The very two important conferences in this field of HPC are ISC High Performance in Germany and SuperComputing (SC), the international Conference for High Performance Computing, Network, Storage and Analysis in US. Both conferences give students the opportunity to be a part of their team in organizing the conference as a Student Volunteer.

I can highly recommend students in the field to attend these events and gain the support of their advisor or professor at the respective university. Attending such conferences can show you a future perspective. The Student Volunteer Programm at ISC High Performance & SC is a wonderful programm for young researchers to find their way in HPC. The Student Volunteer Programm at ISC-High Performance gave me the chance to get to know the HPC experts in person and the HPC fields better with their technical lectures. I have learned which other topics are important in my research field. As a student volunteer I could broaden my horizons and my wealth of experience and at least I could start networking with the important HPC people.

2017 was a special year for the Supercomputing conference, because it is the first time that someone from outside the United States was selected as conference chair; Dr. Bernd Mohr was the general chair for the conference.

Highly interested in joining the SC organization team, I had sent my application to SC17 in Denver as a SCinet Student. SCinet is a great opportunity to work with experts to build the worlds fastest and most powerful temporary network. The SCinet Architecture is build from scratch by a worldwide group of volunteers from academia and research. The primary mission of SCinet is of providing massive bandwidth for network research exhibitions & simulations. Three month later I was accepted, WOW it is fantastic, I attended SC17 this time as SCinet student and it is a completely new experience for me responsible for new tasks; it was very exciting experience.

It was a highly intensive workweek where everyone has a steep learning curve. The SCinet students were integrated in diverse teams with different responsibilities, like Architecture, Communications, DevOps, Edge Network, Network Security, Routing and Fiber. For my first time as a SCinet Student I was responsible for the fibers with Rebecca Hutchinson and Annette Kitajima as co-chairs of the SC17 fiber team and Julie Locke as my DNOC team captain. First, I had a briefing about the network and setup: Fibers must be setup in the ceilings and on the exhibition floor under a masonite hardboard, which protects the fiber form heavy equipment and the foot traffic. Each fiber student was responsible for a distributed/remote Network Operations Center (DNOC) at the conference hall, one of their tasks was to connecting exhibitor booths to their respective DNOCs. The distributed/remote NOC racks getting installed and configured.

SCinet takes one year to plan. The preparation activities started three weeks before the conference with a staging event and a setup event just seven days before the conference begins. At the setup week the exhibition hall is build up. Their very first task is to start laying miles of fiber throughout conference center. The Fiber Team, where I belong to in this intensive volunteering week, takes the lead role in installing fiber on the exhibit floor. While the fiber is being installed and interconnect to the network infrastructure of SCinet, all of SCinet’s hardware is pre-staged, configured, and tested in a separate location. The final phase of setup will move all the racked hardware to their target locations on the exhibition floor and begin connecting all the different booths. During the show the Fiber Team has primary responsibility for troubleshooting and repairing fiber.

At the end I got very proud to be now a part of the big SCinet committee. The SCinet committee made a competition of the DNOC staging between all DNOC captains and DNOC student volunteer.
At the end of the conference it was the question, who had installed the fibers neatest in the DNOC rack. I had won, which makes me very proud. It was a great experience to working in the international team to prepare the fibers for the world fastest scientific network!


About the author: Anja Gerbes

  •  Anja is employed at the Center for Scientific Computing in Frankfurt and is doing her PhD in Hamburg at the German Climate Computing Center. In Frankfurt she is responsible for the LOEWE-CSC and FUCHS cluster at Goethe University.
    As a member at the Hessian Competence Center for High Performance Computing (HKHLR) for the location of Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, her task is to help scientists for the Universities of Hessen with their programs, to optimize and improve them. She is giving lectures in different HPC topics to introduce users to the cluster environment.

    Performance optimization was very exciting, which in turn drew her closer to HPC after her bachelor in computer science. She did her master in HPC and did a performance analysis with hardware performance counters on C++ code. She organized during her study different events like IT-Girls Night and Night of Science. As a student she was volunteering in university politics.

    After finishing her study in computer science she started studying physics, where she  got a member of the Equalization Council of Physics. As a physic student she is now responsible for Girls’ Day and is planning to organize a Physics-Girls Night, to inspire girls for physics.

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  1. Anja, You are a gem! Your continuous support and expert advice toward the ISC High Performance STEM program is extremely valuable.

    Thank you so much for that.

    Nages Sieslack
    Marketing Communications
    ISC High Performance