The “Special Interest Group for HPC in Resource Constrained Environments, or SIGHPC-RCE” began with a birds-of-a-feather session during SC14, and it was officially chartered by the ACM as a virtual chapter in 2015.
SIGHPC is based on a platform that speaks to HPC’s power to transform the quality of life for those who live in resource-constrained regions of the world. Its members become STEM evangelists that convey why S&T education is essential for all; that everyone must be provided equal access to resources and training (including women, those who are poor, ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities and varied learning styles).
For more than 50 years, high performance computing (HPC) has supported tremendous advances in all areas of science, from biology, physics and astronomy, to chemistry, nanotechnology, and energy exploration. Densely-populated, urban communities can more easily support subscription-based commodity networks and energy infrastructure, but that can be challenging for research computing centers located at universities that are situated in rural regions – the last mile can be long. These universities, however, support open science that reflect unique industrial landscapes, globally-significant environmental factors, geology, minerals, and more. Social conditions in remote regions are of interest to urban data scientists; the phenomenon of urbanization is of growing importance to national defense and homeland security stakeholders who leverage “big data” to predict a variety of outcomes, including where social unrest is likely to occur. Regional-serving universities help fill the HPC workforce pipeline, and the research communities they support make important contributions to environmental health, global food security, fresh water science and world peace.
While all HPC professionals would benefit from advanced skills training, few from resource-constrained communities can afford to travel to where workshops are often held. Many who work on such campuses are “generalists” who have tech support and teaching obligations, so it’s difficult for them to take time away from work. There are always urgent and competing priorities for limited funds so they’re especially disadvantaged when it comes to scholarly travel.
With increased exposure to resources and communities of interest that foster broad, international collaborations, SIGHPC-RCE will promote training exercises that will pave the way for secure collaborations among US and African research communities that contribute discoveries in climate science, agriculture, fresh water, transportation, research networks, and telecommunications – among others – all of which would benefit global interests. By preparing delegates to make HPC more accessible and secure on college campuses, SIGHPC-RCE will produce results in both computer-focused education, and science education, in general.
Projects that would serve this community well include: