In the fast-paced world of High Performance Computing (HPC), where breakthroughs in technology often dominate headlines, it’s crucial not to lose sight of the people who drive innovation forward—the diverse and dynamic community that forms the backbone of this field. In a recent interview conducted by Cristin Merritt, CMO of Alces Flight, with Nages Sieslack, the Head of Communications for ISC Group, the spotlight was on ISC’s unwavering commitment to diversity, inclusion, and collaboration.

Interview by Cristin Merritt with editorial support by Dominik Wojtak

Since 2011, the ISC High Performance Conference Series has been implementing social sustainability initiatives in order to enable an open and welcoming space for all who attend their events. Their approach is driven by a fundamental belief: Put People First. This simple statement has underpinned many of their projects, which are now considered core components of their annual event.

Nages Sieslack kindly set aside some time in the middle of a busy planning schedule to talk about the history of ISC’s commitments and how they have grown to meet the needs of many different community aspects of HPC. Here is just a sampling of some of her key points on building up a welcoming space to exchange ideas in the field of supercomputing.

Embrace Diversity and Inclusion: A Guiding Principle

Since its inception, diversity and inclusion aren’t just ideals for ISC High Performance; they’re foundational principles woven into the fabric of the conference. ISC recognises that innovation thrives in environments where diverse perspectives converge and inclusivity is championed. Every aspect of the conference, from speaker selection to panel topics, is curated with diversity in mind. Since 2011, this dedication has been underscored through their social sustainability initiatives. By welcoming a multitude of perspectives and experiences, ISC cultivates an atmosphere of creativity, collaboration, and mutual respect.

Nurturing Emerging Talent: Building Legacy

ISC has made a commitment to preserve the legacy of the pioneers in the field, while also building new legacies. They nurture the future generations of HPC leaders who will continue the work of their predecessors, and one way they do this is by presenting the Jack Dongarra Early Career Award, which recognizes the exceptional work of researchers in the early stages of their careers. This is a recognition of their breakthroughs that not only advance HPC but also contribute to saving human lives.

Initiatives like the recently implemented Solutions Form Takeover provide a platform for emerging researchers and practitioners to showcase their work, connect with peers, and access invaluable mentorship opportunities. ISC has also stayed committed to the HPC student population with the conference volunteer scheme, hosting three poster session categories, and – new for 2024 – expanding the student cluster competition into their own dedicated onsite area. By empowering young talent and providing avenues for skill development, ISC lays the groundwork for a sustainable and vibrant future for the HPC community.

Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Community

At ISC High Performance, success isn’t measured solely by technological breakthroughs; it’s about nurturing a sense of community and collaboration that transcends disciplinary boundaries. ISC recognises that true innovation occurs at the intersection of diverse perspectives and experiences. As such, the conference takes a holistic approach to bridging the gap between technology and community.  From dedicated sessions for global exchange of ideas to fostering new ways of networking through ‘brain breaks,’ ISC continues to seek out ways to bring people together.

Direct Engagement: Collaboration Partnership with Women in HPC

ISC’s 2024 partnership with Women in HPC (WHPC) represents a tangible commitment to amplifying underrepresented voices within the community. Through joint initiatives and collaborative efforts, ISC and WHPC work tirelessly to create pathways for minorities to excel in the field of HPC. This year, WHPC and ISC have planned events for all attendees – from the Solution Forum Takeover, to a Mentorship BoF, to greater visibility in the Poster Session and Reception, there is something for everyone.

Through a diverse array of forums, workshops, and networking events, ISC creates opportunities for meaningful interactions and knowledge exchange. These platforms not only facilitate the dissemination of cutting-edge research but also foster connections and collaborations that drive progress and innovation. By bringing together researchers, practitioners, and enthusiasts from around the globe, ISC cultivates a vibrant and inclusive community united by a shared passion for HPC.

Here are some of the must-attend events for those interested in seeing for themselves how ISC is developing social sustainability in HPC (be sure to check the schedule for updates!):

Jack Dongarra Early Career Awards:

  • Date: Monday, May 13, 2024
  • Time: 10:25 AM to 11:20 AM
  • Location: Hall Z, 3rd Floor
  • Open to: All conference and exhibition pass holders – Will also be available on demand.

WHPC Solutions Takeover:

  • Date: Monday, May 13, 2024
  • Time: 6:45 PM to 8:30 PM
  • Location: Exhibitor Hall, ISC High Performance 2024
  • Theme: ‘Reinventing HPC Potential’
  • Open to: All conference and exhibition pass holders attending ISC High Performance 2024 in-person.

ISC Poster Pitch Session:

  • Date: Tuesday, May 14, 2024
  • Time: 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM
  • Location: Hall G1, 2nd Floor
  • Open to: All conference and exhibition pass holders attending ISC High Performance 2024 in-person.

Student Cluster Competition:

  • Dates: Monday, May 13, 2024 to Wednesday, May 15, 2024
  • Location: Foyer S04 (directly outside the Exhibition Hall)
  • Open to: All conference and exhibition pass holders attending ISC High Performance 2024 in-person.

Brain Breaks:

  • Run it Out:
    • Location: Grand Elysée Back Entrance, Exit Tesdorpfstraße
    • 8.5 – 9K Event: Monday, May 13th from 6:50 AM
    • 5K Event: Tuesday, May 14th at 6:50 AM
    • 8.5 – 9K Event: Wednesday, May 15th from 6:50 AM
  • Breathe and Stretch:
    • Monday, May 13, 2024
    • Times: 12:05 PM and 3:05 PM (20 minutes)
    • Location: Hall Z, 3rd Floor

Watch the interview series!

The development of the ISC social sustainability plan didn’t happen overnight, and we are proud to announce that we are developing a short video series on each of the ISC’s main topics! The overview interview is available above… However, be sure to subscribe to get even more insight from Nages Sieslack about ISC’s journey towards making ISC High Performance a diverse and inclusive conference as the videos are released.