ORNL professionals attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, which took place October 14-16 in Houston. They included (left to right): Sarah Powers, Katie Shuman, KathlynBoudwin, Kelly Cambron, Charlotte Barbier, Suzanne Parete-Koon, Dallas Sacca, SupadaLaosooksathit, VerónicaVergaraLarrea, and Huina Mao.

ORNL professionals attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, which took place October 14-16 in Houston. They included (left to right): Sarah Powers, Katie Shuman, KathlynBoudwin, Kelly Cambron, Charlotte Barbier, Suzanne Parete-Koon, Dallas Sacca, Supada Laosooksathit, Verónica Vergara Larrea, and Huina Mao.

OLCF, ORNL employees travel to Houston to salute and recruit women in computing

Twelve women from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) joined thousands of colleagues at the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference (GHC), presented by the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology and the Association for Computing Machinery.

GHC, the world’s largest gathering of women technologists, is designed for recruiting and connecting with a traditionally underrepresented group in computer science and high-performance computing (HPC).

“We wanted to show that ORNL is a strong supporter in the recruiting of and development of women in computing. We felt that our presence was essential,” said Kate Carter, Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate (CCSD) recruiter and a point person for the ORNL Women in Computing networking group. “One of the objectives of the ORNL Women in Computing group is to increase participation at Grace Hopper.”

The conference and career fair, which took place October 14–16 in Houston, drew 12,000 attendees, 50 percent more than last year’s 8,000. The guests included thousands of women, as well as a significant number of men who support expanding the representation of women in this traditionally male-dominated field.

ORNL’s presence at the conference also included a recruiting booth and computing exhibit. ORNL staff who spent time at the booth to meet with other attendees included 10 members of the technical staff—five of whom also presented posters and talks—and two staff members from the Information Technology Services Division.

Suzanne Parete-Koon and Veronica Vergara Larrea, user support specialists at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at ORNL, both gave presentations at the conference.

Vergara Larrea presented a poster titled “Using Jenkins to Monitor Application Performance and Environment Stability on Supercomputers,” which described a project that she worked on in collaboration with the OLCF’s Wayne Joubert and Chris Fuson. Their project evaluated existing continuous integration tools in the context of application performance monitoring on HPC systems. She also presented their preliminary results from monitoring applications performance on the supercomputers at the OLCF using a prototype system based on Jenkins.

“This was my first time attending the GHC, and I had a great experience,” Vergara Larrea said. “It was inspiring to see and hear from so many successful women in tech. I also enjoyed getting to meet students and encouraging them to explore careers at the national labs.”

Parete-Koon presented a talk titled “Tiny Titan: Visualizing Parallel Computing with DIY Supercomputers and Games” on how science and technology demonstrations that are engaging and appealing serve as on-ramps to STEM fields.

“I shared how programming animated sprites [a computer graphic that can be moved on-screen and otherwise manipulated as a single entity] with my parents at the age of nine showed me that computer programming allowed people to create little, controllable worlds within the machine,” Parete-Koon said. “My talk demonstrated how parallel programming ideas could be taught in playful ways with DIY [do-it-yourself] supercomputers like Tiny Titan or by organizing students into components of a ‘human supercomputer’ and ‘programming’ them to do a parallel task like making 40 origami rabbits.”

Parete-Koon also attended a panel session at GHC about incorporating computer game programming into high school classes. The panel reached one major conclusion: programming and building computer games is a good exercise for high school students because it gives them a safe environment in which to learn that failure is one of many steps toward success.

ORNL’s Computational Sciences and Engineering Division’s Huina Mao, who presented a talk and poster, and Katie Schuman, who presented a talk, attended as Liane B. Russell Fellows. The highly competitive fellowship, which comes with 3 years of funding at the postdoctoral level, is an integral part of ORNL’s recruiting effort, helping to attract a diverse workforce of scientists and engineers to pursue a career in scientific research.

Another ORNL employee, Charlotte Barbier, a mechanical engineering researcher at the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL, presented a poster titled “High-Performance Computing (HPC) Simulations for Shale Formations.”

Those assisting at the ORNL recruiting booth included Carter; Julianna Presley, CCSD recruiter; Kathlyn Boudwin, CCSD project manager; Supada Laosooksathit, a postdoc in scientific computing at the National Center for Computational Sciences; Dallas Sacca and Kelly Cambron, Information Technology Services Division technical staff members; and Sarah Powers, Computer Science and Mathematics Division research staff member. – Miki Nolin

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is supported by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.