Birds-of-a-feather at Supercomputing

The official text of the BoF at SC.


There is a generally accepted set of skills and competencies necessary to efficiently use HPC resources. Making clear what skills are required or recommended for a competent HPC user would benefit both the HPC service providers and practitioners. This BoF will present the status of the recently founded International HPC Certification Forum aiming to categorize, define, and examine these skills to create an ecosystem. To ensure this is an independent community-wide effort, we invite anyone interested in HPC teaching/ training to participate in the discussion and get involved. Inputs from academia, industry and HPC centers will steer the future effort.


The HPC community has always considered the training of new and existing HPC practitioners to be of high importance to its growth. The significance of training will increase even further in the era of Exascale when HPC encompasses even more scientific disciplines. This diversification of HPC practitioners challenges the traditional training approaches, which are not able to satisfy the specific needs of users, often coming from non-traditionally HPC disciplines, and only interested in learning a particular set of skills. HPC centres are struggling to identify and overcome the gaps in users’ knowledge. How should we support prospective and existing users who are not aware of their own knowledge gaps?

During the session, we will introduce the HPC Certification Forum, its roles and responsibilities, and describe the current status including skill tree and tools to exploit this data. Similar to a school curriculum, the Forum defines skills with their encompanied knowledge and will aim to provide tests to obtain certificates. It won’t produce any teaching material but will allow the existing teaching materials to be branded and listed for the use of HPC community. Voices from academia, HPC centers, and industry will describe how this initiative may help to mitigate educational issues they encounter in their work. Next, we illustrate how the provided tools can be used by practitioners to indicate domain scientists what skills are recommended for their roles or how to disseminate their own teaching materials on their own webpages. To steer the activity, we aim to obtain feedback on the overall strategy, the developed HPC skill tree and methods of their examination. We will also discuss next steps and and governance model. After creating an international consortium we hope for the certificates to be recognized and respected by the HPC community and industry.

Our target audience is anyone involved or interested in HPC Education and Training, including but not limited to HPC training providers, educators and trainers, user support personnel, HPC users of different proficiency levels, domain scientists, people responsible for recruitment in academia and industry, and industry representatives. The aim of this session is to scope the needs of the HPC community (including its users) and the diversity of opinions is one of the ways to make sure this effort is moving in the right direction. So we welcome anyone interested in this conversation to participate to make sure this becomes an independent community-wide effort. We expect that the outcome of this BoF will strongly steer the direction of this community effort.

We especially welcome anybody that wants to contribute!


Key information  
When Thursday, November 15th12:15pm - 1:15pm
Where D175, Dallas, Texas, USA


  • Introduction of the HPC Certification Program and Forum – Julian Kunkel (University of Reading)
    Goals, strategy pursued, experiences
  • Expected benefits of the Certification to data centers, academia and industry – Jan Heichler (DDN), Weronika Fellinger (EPCC)
    Short presentations from representatives of data centers, academia and industry describing how the HPC Certification could help to mitigate the issues
  • Introduction of the current skill tree – Anja Gerbes (CSC/HKHLR, Goethe Universität Frankfurt)
    Some technical details how it is managed
  • Tools for the skill tree
    An interactive visualization and how teaching material can be referenced by our tools.
  • Roadmap and primer for Q/A (see introductory slide set)
  • Panel