Birds-of-a-feather at ISC HPC


The HPC community has always considered the training of new and existing HPC practitioners to be important to its growth. However, as the community becomes more diverse the traditional HPC training approaches are being challenged. The constantly growing group of users with very specific training needs, often coming from traditionally non-HPC disciplines, makes it difficult for HPC centres to identify and overcome their knowledge gaps. Most of the readily available training materials are not comprehensive and don’t have clearly defined pre-requisites or learning outcomes. So how should intermediate HPC users identify the content they have not mastered yet?

There is a generally accepted set of skills required to efficiently use HPC resources, and the main goal of the International HPC Certification program is to categorise, define and eventually test them. Making clear what skills are required or recommended for specific user roles and scientific domains would benefit both the HPC service providers and practitioners.

In this BoF, speakers from academia and science present the current status and discuss the value of the approach and gather valuable feedback on the current state of the skill tree through small group discussions. The initiative received a lot of attention at ISC’18 and SC’18 and attracted a number of collaborations (including ACM SIGHPC Education Chapter). To make sure the program becomes a community-wide and sustainable effort more involvement from the HPC training community is needed. We invite anyone experienced or interested in HPC teaching and training to participate in those discussions and get involved.


A number of sessions and events was organised in the last year to introduce the International HPC Certification program to the community. Therefore, the aim of this session is to briefly present it’s status and then gather feedback on the current state of the skill tree and map the fine grained skills onto the existing training materials. We hope to achieve this through a number of small group discussions and a general audience discussion at the end. A short presentation at the beginning is to set up the context and help facilitate the discussions.

The International HPC Certification program is at a stage where a critical and constructive feedback is needed the most. The skill tree is very comprehensive and requires input from many sub-communities. Therefore, anyone interested in this effort is invited to attend. Especially, anyone involved or interested in HPC education and training, as well as people involved in user support and system administration.

We especially welcome anybody that wants to contribute!


Key information  
When Tuesday, June 18th 15:45pm - 16:45pm
Where Room Substanz 1, 2; Frankfurt, Germany

See the official announcement here.


The agenda is split into three sections

Short Presentations

  • Introduction of the HPC Certification ProgramJulian Kunkel (University of Reading)
  • HPC tools and usage: a view from the communityJean-Thomas Acquaviva (DDN)
  • Skill tree introductionKai Himstedt (Universität Hamburg)
  • Mapping content to skills: a case study from the PeCoH projectKai Himstedt (Universität Hamburg)
  • Certification processJulian Kunkel (University of Reading)

Community Activity

The community is invited to inspect and comment the skill tree and the examination procedure. Members of the certification program will lead the discussion of the individual sections.

We prepare in the room different stations – one per main branch of the skill tree, providing the individual skills of the tree and an overview. We invite attendees to provide feedback, e.g., identify missing skills and ask questions, either using post-its or discussing them with the representatives from the forum.

Similarly, screenshots of the general examination rules and procedure are provided to be commented.


We show the roadmap of the program draw conclusions from the session. There is time for a final discussion.