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Interns perform research, accelerate growth at OLCF

OLCF 2016 summer interns include (front row, left to right) Michaela Vaitova, Luna Xu, Jeffrey Graves, Duane Vick, Arghya Chatterjee, Lechen Yu, Joseph Huber, and
Hyogi Sim; (second row, left to right) Alexander Walker, Sarah Neuwirth, Woong Shin, Sisi Xiong, Peter Xenopoulos, Wei Xie, Marshall “Drew” Cage, Oumar Diallo, Aaron Barlow, and Christopher Muzyn; (back row, left to right) Yufang Bao, Rina Singh, Rachel Harken, Miki Nolin, and Radhika Katti; (not pictured) Swapnil Desai, Preston Gull, Benjamin Klein, Mark Mudrick, James Wynne III, and Shiqi Zhong.

Every year the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) selects more than 500 students from all over the world to participate in internships within its various departments.

This summer the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at ORNL, brought in 29 of these students, whose backgrounds range from computer architecture, to mathematics and statistics, to artificial intelligence. Internships at the OLCF provide students with research and learning opportunities as they prepare for careers as scientists, programmers, and engineers. Interns work closely with their staff mentors to perform high-priority research at the center that contributes to its mission.

Three of the OLCF’s current interns shared their recent experiences and insights into their projects at ORNL.

Drew Cage

Marshall “Drew” Cage is a senior in computer and systems engineering and computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. While interning at the OLCF, Cage has been working on two different projects, one aimed at enhancing the current hardware inventory tracking system and another geared toward enabling the automatic generation of monthly reports for the OLCF.

Cage began the summer working on Scott Milliken’s open-source Data Center Infrastructure Management (openDCIM), a software application that eliminates the need for spreadsheets when tracking data center inventory. Although the program is already in use, Cage is focused on improving the application to meet changing user needs.

Cage is also working on his own project called ARCTool, or Automatic Report Compilation Tool, which will be able to generate reports based on different factors. For example, a user could input specific starting and ending times for a section of a report, and the program would generate a document based on the selected range. Cage hopes that the tool will allow users to select and create custom parameters that will help the application gather and compile the appropriate information into a consumable report.

“We’ve got monthly OLCF operations reports, and it’s a hassle to sift through a month’s worth of information in different locations. This process could be automated,” he said.

One of the most valuable things Cage learned when he began working on ARCTool is that developers can use various programs to complete the same projects. “It’s interesting to know that there isn’t some sort of set-in-stone way to do any one project,” he said.

Cage is participating in the Higher Education Research Experiences (HERE) program under the supervision of the OLCF’s Stephen McNally.

Luna Xu

Luna Xu came to the United States from Shanghai, China, to pursue a PhD in computer science at Virginia Tech. This summer, she is working on enhancing the flexibility and performance of the OLCF’s data analysis environments.

Xu’s current focus is to help merge the functionality of data analysis algorithms, which have rarely used GPU accelerators in the past, and the performance of heterogeneous supercomputers.

As data scientists design algorithms and workflows that scale on OLCF resources, Xu’s work will provide them with the information and tools they need.

Xu previously worked on projects related to the management of computing resources in machine clusters, so this foray into high-performance and scalable data analytics at the OLCF is a new experience.

“This is the first time I’m working with GPU computation and acceleration. Also, the experience of using OLCF supercomputers like Titan and Rhea is kind of new to me,” she said.

Xu is participating in the Advanced Short-Term Research Opportunity program under the supervision of OLCF Advanced Data and Workflow Group Leader Sreenivas Sukumar and the mentorship of Seung-Hwan Lim, a member of ORNL’s Computational Sciences and Engineering Division.

Christopher Muzyn

Christopher Muzyn, a senior at the University of Tennessee, has been spending his summer helping to prepare the OLCF for Summit, its next leadership-class supercomputer.

Muzyn has been a HERE program participant for the past year, working in the OLCF High Performance Computing Operations Group. He has worked on a variety of projects during his time at ORNL, but he is currently helping to develop Summit’s next test system, which will help staff and users acclimate to the future full-scale system.

These kinds of projects, he said, are completely different from anything he has done as a student, providing him with invaluable hands-on experience.

“In school you don’t get to manage systems like this. I’d say only 10 percent of what I do here now is related to what I did in class,” he said. “I’m glad I pursued this internship. It’s been worth it.”

Muzyn plans to continue his internship through the fall under the supervision of the OLCF’s High-Performance Systems Administrator Jason Kincl.

Other Students

In addition to Cage, Xu, and Muzyn, other OLCF summer interns include Yufang Bao, Aaron Barlow, Arghya Chatterjee, Swapnil Desai, Oumar Diallo, Jeffrey Graves, Preston Gull, Rachel Harken, Joseph Huber, Radhika Katti, Benjamin Klein, Mark Mudrick, Sarah Neuwirth, Miki Nolin, Woong Shin, Hyogi Sim, Rina Singh, Michaela Vaitova, Duane Vick, Alexander Walker, James Wynne III, Peter Xenopoulos, Wei Xie, Sisi Xiong, Lechen Yu, and Shiqi Zhong.

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

Rachel McDowell

Rachel McDowell is a science writer for the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility.