My journey to the summer of HPC

My journey to the summer of HPC
Music Festival for all - Colour of Ostrava

—May all your dreams blossom ✿

The birds eye view of Ostrava from the New City Hall Tower


Friends, are you considering applying for the PRACE Summer of HPC program but are concerned that you might not have the relevant experience? Are you worried that your programming skills are not good enough to master HPC and impress the judges? Do you feel like you’ve got nothing except enthusiasm and curiosity? If you do, please take courage and apply. You never know what the program is looking for. I’m going to share with you my own experience on the road to HPC.

When I started to apply for the PRACE summer of HPC program, I thought that my application would not go anywhere after I did a check list of myself. However, you’ll never know if you dont click the submit button.


Michal Colliery: the country’s only National Cultural Heritage Site.


I am a Chinese citizen who is studying in the UK on a British Student Visa. This was actually my biggest concern during my application. Even though the PRACE Summer of HPC program is open to all students who study in a European university, it still wasn’t very clear whether there is a preference for those students who don’t require a visa (e.g. a student who studies in a Schengen country and is going to do project in another Schengen country, meaning that they already have the required visa). But for me, I need a Schengen visa to go to any other country, except the UK. I really appreciate the full support the program provided towards my visa application for this summer, as it does mean much more effort and cost to sponsor me than the others.


Programming background:

I was almost full of tears when I finished reading the project requirements and the code test for the first time. Am I actually able to use Fortran, C++/C, Java, etc? My college had offered an 18-hour intensive C programming course just before I started my application. I was as clueless as a five-year old toddler – having managed to finish the classic hello-world program and no more. In order to complete the code test, I learnt some basic C++ coding by watching YouTube videos and the documentation from the C course, and finally answered the questions on the fly. I checked my answers in Python, the only language in which I am confident enough to plot a few sets of figures by using a couple of loops.


HPC experience:

I use HPC on a day-to-day basis for my own research. Therefore, I know the basics of ssh, PBS queueing system etc – just enough to keep my project going. However, with my project getting more complicated, I can no longer progress any faster due to my poor programming skills and lack of knowledge of HPC. Hence, my desire to join PRACE Summer of HPC program got stronger everyday ever since I heard about this program.


Non-computing experience:

I have a pure chemistry background from my undergraduate studies, involving ZERO programming experience. My one-year long industrial experience only taught me why HPC is important. But again, ZERO programming was involved. Luckily, I’m active in some societies and have acquired a few soft skills.


Music Festival for all – Colours of Ostrava


Here is my story about my journey to the PRACE Summer of HPC program. Guess where I am now. I’m sitting at my desk in the IT4Innovations centre, absorbing the useful new knowledge like a sponge, writing this post for you. Isn’t that great?! Next year, it can be your turn 😉.


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