SoHPC 2019 is finished. Now what? SoHPC2020!

SoHPC 2019 is finished. Now what? SoHPC2020!

Hello everyone! I hope you are doing well!

I bet you are wondering now if you are going to apply (or if you should talk about this to your potentially interested friends) and are not really sure how to do this.

Well, I thought that it could help if I write a little bit about how the application process went for me and how I am feeling now about the experience.

As you may guess, if I’m still writing in this blog, my experience went pretty good overall! Here’s the story:

Disclaimer: This is my own personal experience. It does not engage PRACE in anything nor states that it is the “best pattern” to get selected. Everyone is different and has a different background, so trust your own guts and go for it!

I was a penultimate year student in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. Last year, I had a High Performance Computing course (in the second semester). Luckily, our HPC lecturer sent us an email he received saying that the applications were open (he sent this in February, the applications opened around mid-January, so stay tuned during this winter) and if we were interested we could apply and ask him to fill in the recommendation form for us. (You need to ask a teacher of yours to do that, but it has to be filled in the application website directly, you won’t know what they said about you)

I was really loving the classes of HPC so I directly thought that I should apply! But then, I started overthinking about the selection process, that maybe I don’t have a good profile, etc.

Luckily, a friend of mine, Jordy, was also interested and encouraged me to go for it too! We supported each other but we knew that we didn’t have a lot of chances to be both selected (two people from the same city, the same specialty, the same class… but interested in very different projects!) but yet, we both applied (and we were not the only ones in our class actually) and waited. And you know what? We were both selected and spent the first week in Bologna together!

Should you be recommended by an HPC lecturer?

No! I thought a lot about it but ended up asking my teacher of Data Analysis and Statistics to do that, because she knew me since more than a year and she is a teacher I really admire (as I do for my HPC lecturer too, of course).
So, don’t worry about this! I don’t know if you have to ask a teacher that is somehow related to the subjects you want (I applied for Machine Learning/Deep Learning projects, so a statistics teacher made sense for me).

Do you have to be experienced in HPC to get selected?

I believe that you don’t have to. Even if I was already familiar with, some people we met were not! The projects were really different and focused on many fields. People came from different backgrounds and were not all programming on a daily basis before the internship!

What did we have to do?

There were different “steps”.
There was a page about you, your information, where you study etc.
We had some exercises to do (3, each one was related to the previous one). Actually it was about doing one exercise then improving it.
We had to choose at least two projects, 3 at most, and say what were our motivations for each project.
There was also a motivation part to write about the program in general.
I didn’t choose a “standard cover letter”. I wrote every word in a way that it was as sincere as possible, and to make it reflect me.
We also had to attach a résumé.
As far as I remember that was everything. I took enough time to write everything, I asked some friends to review my motivation paragraphs and that was very helpful.

I had the answer by the beginning of April, and my coordinator contacted me few days/weeks after that to organize my 3 travels. (To Bologna, from Bologna to Bratislava, then back to Paris). Everything was settled quickly and it wasn’t stressful at all for me!

We arrived, Jordy and I, to Bologna and had lot of fun and learned a lot. I met so many people and enjoyed talking and sharing moments with all the other participants. It was really a great week!

Once I arrived to Bratislava I started working on my project (High Performance Machine Learning) and you can know more about that if you check the posts I published in this summer!

If I could change something…?

Only one thing. I would have made it possible to meet all the other participants again for one week after the end of the Summer. This would have been the perfect way to say goodbye! But I was still lucky enough to meet again some people I met in Bologna. We went to Vienna and had lots of fun there together!

Now?

Now I started my semester abroad in Pisa (I’m back again to Italy, can’t resist to Pizza and Gelato) with some classes about AI, Machine Learning and Data. My experience in HPC is definitely not stopping here though, I will find a way to work on this!

I am very curious to see who will be the next participants! So if you are thinking about applying and have some questions you think I can help answer, just send me a message on LinkedIn! Good luck and welcome to the thrilling HPC world!

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About

Hi! My name is Thizirie, I am 24 years old and I'm currently studying Computer Science and Applied Mathematics in Paris. I love reading, listening to Rock'n'Roll, watching tennis games... and of course HPC and AI! Contact me here if you have questions or need some information before applying for SoHPC : Thizirie Ould Amer

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