It is said that life is a series of decisions. In my case, I was living life as light as a feather, but passionate in anything at the same time. I like challenges and I did not want to be just a woman in computers, I wanted to be a woman that works with supercomputers! Three years ago, I found by chance the HPC (High Performance Computing) program offered by the University of Edinburgh while I was considering higher studies in HPC, since this field has many areas to flourish. Despite my previous HPC experience with my internship at ORNL in the USA, and the ISC 2016 event in Germany, I decided to move to Scotland to learn more about HPC.
The EPCC (which offers this intense HPC year program) has been the international centre for excellence in high-performance computing for over 25 years. I’ll share some memories:
I was impressed by the number of ladies I met as classmates. Usually in the “IT world” there are very few women compared to men. The following picture shows that our HPC master group had 14 men and 10 women (1 from the UK, 1 Germany, 1 Peruvian, 7 China).
During classes and workshops
The curriculum for courses are previously arranged in advance by the teachers and teaching assistants and published one week before on the intranet. They consist of the theorical materials and practical exercises to support the theory. Some reinforcing workshops were also used in order to address questions and concerns.
Additionally, a personal tutor is designated in order to help us with any university subject.
Work as part of a group
Some courseworks were set in order to develop our skills of working as a group. Soft skills and other non-technical skills are also part of our educational evaluation. Dealing with students from multicultural societies was a little challenge for me at the beginning. With time, I discovered and learned from different studentship habits and actions.
Communication is the key in any healthy relationship in any circumstances.
Visiting Edinburgh in group
We did not share many moments as a unified group because of the deadlines of the intensive Master program. The first time we were together, it was arranged by the school to have an all-you-can-eat buffet with dishes from all over the world. A second big-group meeting was gathered by the initiative of the Chinese group. We went to the Edinburgh zoo, where we had lots of expectation for the penguin parade! The last one was a two-hour walk to the Arthur’s seat during the first week of our second semester. It was recorded 🙂
I have to say that the Chinese group demonstrated to be a strong community.
My failures and achievements
One of the first coursework that represents a challenge to me was our first MPI assignment, which consisted of divide a figure into pieces, then enhance it, to finally reconstruct it using many MPI processes. At the end, we were asked by the school to deliver a code and a report. Figures of different sizes were used for the experiment and thanks to the help of Holly and Jasmin I was able to complete it! Another challenge I remember I had, was the Student Cluster Competition SCC. I left the team since it represented an extra effort that I was not able to manage at that time.
The experience was useful at the end because my dissertation included the CP2K HPC app.
Inspirational people and friends
Living abroad implies facing hard times, special thanks to Holly, Ruwaida, Racky, Huahua, Andreas and Cris for their understanding and help any time I asked. They stood by my side not only as good classmates, they were very friendly even in my complex mood :p
Meeting pluricultural people and moreover, living together in Bayes was “the experience”.
The picture in the left was taken the first Sunday we meet in Bayes to complete the PS assignment. It was funny to see other groups watching us through the windows as a weird group. The picture in the right was taken in my apartment by my dear Holly, who was trained by me the whole year to have amazing selfies. I am glad she made it 😀
Uncountable stories that at the end someone remembers how others made you feel.
Leveling up people
Special thanks to those people that trusted in myself when I struggled to achieve something related to the master. Thanks to Vanya Yaneva for her support during the practical sessions, thanks to my supervisor during dissertation time and thanks to Abby!
All this students were so hard worked and smart in researching. I learned a lot from them.