Monday, July 27, 2015

Recruiting Research Assistants through a Graduate-level HPC Class in Latin America

During the introductory seminars to graduate school, a faculty professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign used to equate the process of finding an advisor (or finding students, for that matter) to that of finding a spouse. A good relationship student-advisor was like a good marriage. It is not easy to really find whom to work with in your research. Similarly, it is not easy to find whom to share your life with. Although I found the analogy quite amusing, I am not sure I would go to that extent when it comes to define the process of finding students to work in your research group. However, something is clear. If you want to build a productive research team, you would better be on the lookout for good students. How do you recruit them?

For those young assistant professors in Latin America starting a new research team, here is a little piece of advice. A graduate course is a very efficient mechanism to find good matches for your research group. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • The course extends for a relatively long period (usually one semester), giving you time to get to know your students, both at the technical and personal level.
  • The course exposes students to a fairly rich body of knowledge about a particular topic. Therefore, by the end of the semester the student will have a better clue on whether the topic is interesting or not.
  • The graduate class is usually more flexible in the format. That opens up an opportunity to explore particular research problems that may engage students and bring them up to speed into your research agenda.
  • The class usually has more students than available spots in your research group, so it gives you the chance to choose good elements from a bigger sample.
Note that the course works both ways: professor identify good candidates for their groups and students find attractive research groups. So, the course is a meeting point to establish long-lasting relationships and spark new and interesting collaborations. Make sure you carefully design your graduate class. Here are some recommendations:
  • Provide a multiple-session introduction to the topic, where you cover most of the fundamentals of the discipline.
  • Select intriguing papers (both recent and classic) to make up the reading list for the class. 
  • Provide a small collection of project descriptions that students could pick up for their term project. That way you would have them working on your research direction and determine if they are a good match for your team. Make sure all projects generate a scientific write-up with the findings of the project.
  • Schedule presentations from the students, so you can refine their presentation skills. As one of my colleagues says when it comes to the contribution of a paper "half is what you do, the other half is what you show".

Given that many universities in Latin America have a graduate program in Computer Science, you would have a good chance to offer a graduate course in HPC and start building your research group.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Discussion on HPC collaboration between EU and LA tomorrow (July 16)!

As we have previously covered last month, the Workshop on HPC collaboration between Europe and Latin America will take place tomorrow (July 16, 2015) at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt, Germany. The workshop will happen in the Candela Room of the Frankfurt Marriot Hotel (5th floor).

If you happen to be in the conference or just curious, you can check the updated schedule for the workshop here

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Help us map supercomputing in Latin America

Since we started the endeavor that is HPCLA, we have gathered many news and information about Latin American supercomputers, workshops and conferences in High Performance Computing, and international projects related to the region, among others. Although we are still in the start of our mission of gathering and reporting on this large subject, we already find issues in the way this information is organized online. In this context, we would like to ask for your help to make things better!

We have started to map the institutions in Latin America that are related to High Performance Computing, such as laboratories and universities. For all institutions mapped so far, we have also added a link to the posts that discuss topics related to them. We invite you to help make this map more complete, with new information, photos and links to institutions already listed or missing. You can send your new information to us through hpclatinamerica at gmail. You can expect more of this soon!

Monday, July 6, 2015

16th IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Cluster, cloud, and Grid Computing (CCGrid2016) to be held in Cartagena Colombia

After Shenzhen, China, the International Symposium on Cluster, cloud, and Grid Computing (CCGrid) is moving to Cartagena, Colombia. Indeed, CCGrid2016 will be held on the Caribbean Coast in Colombia. Thus, we contacted Professor Carlos Jaime Barrios, general co-chair of CCGrid2016. Professor Barrios coordinates the high performance computing center at the Universidad Industrial de Santander, in Bucaramanga, Colombia. Here are the answers he gave us about the coming CCGrid2016 conference in Colombia.

Q: CCGrid has been evolving during the last years, what are the most relevant topics for the next year and how are they related to the Latin American region?

A: The spirit of CCGRID is to join people of all the world around cluster, cloud, grid computing and distributed systems to show advances and collaborate in interesting projects which can be better the quality of the life (The last conference was in China). If you see the chart of CCGRID, maybe is the only one conference with a wide range of impact, making CCGRIDs in countries of all continents (Not yet Africa, but soon).  For Latin America, from some years, the participation in HPC and large scale computing projects is growing. The Brazilian CCGRID in 2007 in Rio de Janeiro and for the next year CCGRID 2016 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, are shown as Latin American host. CCGRID 2016 is an interesting space for us, as Latin America HPC community to join more the HPC world wide community, to meet us with our pairs from different countries and welcome guests and participants in our beautiful cities.

Q: It has been over 8 years since the last time the CCGrid conference was held in South America (Brazil 2017), what does this opportunity means for the region?

A: The  CCGRID 2016 in Cartagena de Indias is a recognition of the importance of the region in the HPC and large scale computing world wide community. For the region, is a good opportunity to meet specialists, to show developments and to joint directly more projects than before. Another conferences as ISCA was developed in Latin America and some proposals to develop future workshop and conferences around IPDPS, eScience, HPDC and others are in preparation for different Latin American countries (not only Colombia).

Q: Should we expect a strong presence of Latin American community (students, engineers, researchers) in CCGrid2016?

A: Yes, more than the regular conference and traditional workshops, we will propose different satellite activities: tutorials, LatinAmerica Research and Innovation Workshop in HPC (addressed to Latin American community specifically), the SCALE contest, large scale visualization showcase, and more. On the other hand, Cartagena de Indias is a beautiful city, with the best of the Spanish colonial time, the best of the modern Latin America development and spectacular nature. It's not complicated to go to Cartagena, with a lot of flight options directly to different parts of the world. So, we think in a strong participation not only from the Latin American community, also of the all the world.