Computing Profession

Doing Our Part to Show Why HPC Matters


As SC14 draws to a close this week in New Orleans, LA (USA), I'm reminded that one of the things I love about SC is that I’m immersed in a community of people who truly understand why HPC matters. What’s more, the conference exposes me to new facets of HPC and I come away with an even deeper appreciation of supercomputing’s impact on our quality of life. But, when surrounded by people from the HPC world, it’s easy to forget that our government representatives and the public remain largely unaware of how broadly HPC touches our daily lives from the products we consume, the financial services we employ and the medical treatment we receive.

As members of the HPC community, we have a responsibility to help raise awareness of how important supercomputing is to maintaining our leadership in science and technology, as well as our economic security and prosperity. We can’t just leave the communication effort solely to our institutional outreach offices. The work they do is important. But it is most effective when it reflects what we do and say as individuals. We are all ambassadors for HPC.

This year, using SC14’s "HPC Matters" theme as a guiding principle, I committed to doing my part to spread the word.  Wherever my travels took me I left a trail of #hpcmatters stickers in places appropriate for the message. I left evidence of my handiwork in China, Norway and Germany as well as many places in the US.  Of course this is in addition to seizing any opportunity to talk to anyone with a curiosity about HPC.  Globally we can only benefit from heightened awareness of how HPC can help us tackle the great challenges of our time from clean energy, health and medicine, weather prediction and climate change to infrastructure protection and national security.

Spreading the word is also important to ensuring our HPC community continues to thrive and grow. You never know when you might light a spark of interest in a student or someone looking for career direction. I’m impressed and encouraged by the dedication and enthusiasm of the students I’ve met here at SC14. This yearly gathering of talent from academia, government labs and industry is, as always, energizing. We need to remember to channel some of that energy into letting the rest of the world know why HPC matters. There’s a lot at stake.

Dona Crawford is the Associate Director for the Computation Directorate at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a past chair of SC.

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