SC19 Proceedings

The International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis

Community Building for Sustainable and Scalable HPC Outreach


Authors: Weronika Filinger (Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre, University of Edinburgh), Linda McIver (Australian Data Science Education Institute), Scott Callaghan (University of Southern California), Aaron Weeden (Shodor Education Foundation), Martin Quinson (ENS Rennes), Bryan Johnston (Centre for High Performance Computing, South Africa; Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa), Marcelo Ponce (University of Toronto)

Abstract: The HPC community has consistently identified public outreach and diversity promotion as vital to the growth of the field. And yet, most people engaged in HPC outreach don’t have specific training in public engagement or education, and do it on a volunteer basis. For HPC Outreach to fulfill its role ,it needs to be a community-wide effort. We invite anyone interested in outreach to attend and become a part of this active community. The participants are encouraged to bring their demos, activities, ideas and experiences, which then will be categorized and added to the Outreach repository. Come and get involved!

Long Description: To ensure wider community benefits stemming from HPC, we need to encourage the next generation of scientists and engage with the general public. And yet, little time and money are spent on developing new activities, demos and pedagogical approaches to make HPC more accessible to young people and lay audiences. Many people who participate in HPC outreach do so as a one-off activity independent of the larger community, as volunteers, without formal recognition from their employers. Frequently, these individuals lack specific training in public engagement or education and are working on their own to find effective strategies for engagement. Coming up with new ideas and creating engaging activities takes time and effort, but even the best demo has a natural life cycle and cannot be used forever. How should we make our outreach efforts more sustainable and transferable?

For HPC Outreach to fulfil its role it needs to be a community-wide effort. It’s necessary to develop mechanisms for sharing existing materials and ensuring active transfer of ideas and practices. Additionally, we need to put more effort into ensuring everyone in the HPC outreach community receives the support they need.

A number of outreach-related events have been organised at ISC and SC in recent years, and overall they were successful opportunities for members of the community to interact.,However, the more outreach events we run the more evident it becomes that we need to support information and material sharing within the community. This session aims to showcase existing demos, games and activities, let the participant try them, provide feedback and consider them for adoption in their own activities. Through small group discussions we hope to further strengthen communities of practice around outreach, and build ongoing connections among participants. To facilitate the discussion we will present a number of existing demos, and give short presentations on how these can be incorporated into other formats, linked together into a narrative or adopted for a variety of audiences.

The participants will be encouraged to bring their demos, activities, ideas and experiences, which then will be categorised and added to the ‘outreach’ repository, hosted by the ACM SIGHPC Education Chapter. Activities designed for specific age, demographics and background knowledge are especially welcome. There will also be the opportunity to try the existing games and discuss the pedagogical approach behind them. For the repository to serve its purpose it’s necessary to define clear rules on how to contribute, what the necessary metadata is and how to credit the creators. We plan to lead group discussion on how to make the outreach database most useful.

We would like to encourage everyone involved in HPC outreach to attend and share their experiences and ideas. It’s never too late to get involved in outreach activities and we definitely need more people, so we invite anyone interested in HPC outreach to attend. This invitation is also extended to the students attending the conference - we need more students involved in outreach efforts. We need their creativity, enthusiasm, and perspectives.




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