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UH Engineering Student to Attend Argonne Training Program on Extreme-Scale Computing

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Audrey Grayson
Photo from the 2014 ATPESC
Photo from the 2014 ATPESC

A Ph.D. student at the UH Cullen College of Engineering was one of only 65 participants selected to attend the Argonne Training Program on Extreme-Scale Computing (ATPESC) funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Civil engineering student Justin Chang will travel to St. Charles, Illinois from August 2-14 for the intensive two-week training program, which provides hands-on training on the key skills, approaches and tools to design, implement and execute computational science and engineering applications on current supercomputers and the HPC systems of the future.

“I was delighted to have found that I was chosen considering how selective this training program is,” Chang said. “This program will let me stay up to date with the latest technologies, trends and innovative ideas within the high performance computing community.”

Chang's advisor, Kalyana Nakshatrala, a civil and environmental engineering assistant professor, said that although civil and environmental engineering and high performance computing may not seem so compatible, the fields often go hand in hand. “Highly sophisticated computer modeling is necessary for many civil and environmental engineering projects,” Nakshatrala said.

Take Chang’s research, for example: as a doctoral student at UH, Chang developed sophisticated computer models and numerical methods for subsurface flow and transport modeling. Dr. Satish Karra, a staff scientist in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Division of the Los Alamos National Laboratory who worked with Chang last summer, said that Chang’s “state-of-the-art algorithms…are vital for our group’s research in modeling aspects of carbon sequestration, groundwater contamination, hydraulic fracturing and nuclear waste disposal.”

“It feels incredible to have come from a civil engineering background and still be selected for this two week crash course on important topics in extreme-scale computing,” Chang said.

Last March, Chang received the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Award. The SCGSR program provides supplemental awards to support part of a graduate student’s thesis research to be conducted at a DOE laboratory. Chang will travel to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico from mid-August through next January to write scientific code and study the computational efficiency of these numerical methods on state-of-the-art high performance computing (HPC) systems.

Chang said that completing the ATPESC program just in time to travel to LANL to complete his graduate student research will be a huge boost to his education and his research.

“ATPESC will give me an excellent exposure on how the technologies are moving towards extreme-scale computing and how my codes can be adapted to this change,” he said. “I believe that this training program will give me the essential knowledge and the required skill set, thereby boosting my background in HPC needed for my research.”

Another huge benefit of the training program, Chang said, is meeting the 64 other participants, who include scientists, postdocs and doctoral students, as well as the leading experts who guide the ATPESC training sessions.

“It is a rare opportunity to learn from and network with top computational scientists from around the world,” he said.

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