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SC16: John West Leads Diversity Efforts in Supercomputing

Published on November 14, 2016 by Jorge Salazar

John West, SC16 General Chair and Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Texas Advanced Computing Center

The SC16 Supercomputing Conference has focused on raising awareness and helping to change attitudes about diversity. That's according to SC16 General Chair John West, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Texas Advanced Computing Center.

West explained that long-term efforts are underway at SC16 to promote diversity in the supercomputing community. These include a new double-blind review of technical papers; a new standing subcommittee focused on diversity and inclusion added to the conference organizing committee; adoption of demographics measurements of the SC16 conference committee and attendees; active recruitment of student volunteers at organizations and universities that serve underrepresented groups; on-site child care; an added official code of conduct; fellowships that promote inclusivity; and continued support of the Women and IT Networking program.

John West: For me, (diversity) is a numbers problem. If you look at HPC (high performance computing), more and more communities are adopting advanced computing as a baseline tool for their research. I think a big part of this shift is HPC has been around for a long time. More and more communities are starting to become aware of it. But it's also driven by the success of efforts at TACC and other HPC centers that are pushing this idea of science environments that are front-ended by user-friendly technologies that help flatten the learning curve that we've traditionally had that is a real barrier to new communities of users coming into HPC. That success is driving more people to use HPC. And as we have more users, we're going to have to provide more resources to these folks. We need more highly qualified staff in the provider community, both in the centers themselves and in the organizations that create scientific software that people use… If we're going to try and broaden that talent pipeline to grow the workforce to meet the growing demand, the best opportunity to do that is to try and grab a larger share of that untapped pool of talent.

The SC16 supercomputing conference takes place in Salt Lake City, Utah November 13-18, 2016. The event showcases the latest in supercomputing to advance scientific discovery, research, education and commerce. 

Related Link(s)

Part One: Q&A with SC16 General Chair John West from Texas Advanced Computing Center

Part Two: Q&A with SC16 General Chair John West from Texas Advanced Computing Center


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