People - Written by on September 11, 2012

Jack Wells Challenges Graduate Students to Make Supercomputing a Political Priority

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Future computational scientists charged with solving important problems for the nation

Tomorrow’s computational scientists need to stay relevant as well as do vital research, says OLCF Director of Science Jack Wells.

Wells spoke July 27 to computational science graduate students at the Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship’s (CSGF’s) annual conference. Wells is in a unique position to comprehend both the scientist’s and the politician’s point of view. This is because of his background in computational physics and his experience as a legislative fellow to Senator Lamar Alexander.

“One thing I told them was that for the future, they need to understand why the work they’re doing is important and to be able to communicate why it’s important,” says Wells. “That’s the foundation of creating a society in which their work is valued and will be supported by both sides of the political spectrum.”

Wells challenged the CSGF fellows to consider how they will use their influence to positively impact society. He holds that the graduate fellows, as computational scientists, are situated to solve some of the most important problems that face the United States and the world. According to Wells, computational scientists are valued by politicians like Alexander because, through high-performance computing, they contribute to achieving policy goals such as clean air, abundant and affordable energy, healthy children, good jobs, and attracting talented people to the United States.

“We’re good at this, and we have an interest in taking what we’re good at and solving important problems,” says Wells.—Leah Moore