CANHEIT | HPCS 2016 A conference of many firsts for Compute Canada and CUCCIO



A conference of many firsts for Compute Canada and CUCCIO

Compute Canada’s annual conference, “High Performance Computer Symposium”, featured several firsts for Canada’s largest gathering of campus IT leaders and advanced research computing experts and researchers.

“We definitely thought outside of the box for this year’s event,” said Mark Dietrich, President and CEO of Compute Canada. “Not only was this the largest High Performance Computer Symposium (HPSC) in the 29-year history of the conference—both for number of sessions (over 100) and delegates (over 660)—it was also the first time partnering with CUCCIO. Their university IT leaders work with the same excellent researchers we support with the advanced digital infrastructure that is critical to excellent science and transformative innovation.”

“The conference provided many valuable opportunities to discuss how we can work together more effectively and ensure Compute Canada’s renewal helps to meet the need for research computing on campuses across the country,” Dietrich told delegates during the open reception June 19.

The conference was also the greenest on record for Compute Canada. No conference bags or materials—just a glass water bottle, transit pass and a handy app that provided real-time updates on sessions. Trees were planted as a carbon offset and even hotels were chosen based on their sustainability credentials.

Another first was making gender diversity in IT and high performance computing a central theme of the conference, which featured several speakers and sessions on how companies and academic institutions can test their unconscious biases, improve their hiring practices and improve their engagement with women, indigenous people, LGBT communities and other diverse groups.

A lack of skilled workers in the biggest challenge facing HPC in Canada and Compute Canada has embarked on a national effort to recruit more women to a sector that is intricately linked to the country’s innovation and competitiveness.

A June 19 pre-conference reception at the Art Gallery of Alberta set the tone for the conference, with the official launch of the Canadian chapter of Women in HPC. The event featured lightning speeches from female leaders in the HPC sector: Lucille De Haître with Lenovo Group Ltd., Dr. Megan Meredith-Lobay with the University of British Columbia, Dr. Lesley Shannon with Simon Fraser University, and Gráinne McElroy with Royal Roads University.

Other highlights from the conference included:

  • Compute Canada’s first “Raspberry Jam” boot camp, where 35 young students introduced students to computer coding and programming using the Raspberry Pi microcomputer.
  • A Town Hall session on Compute Canada’s planned $250-million renewal of Canada’s advanced research computing platform
  • The annual research poster competition. The two top prices went to two University of Alberta-led research teams that used mathematical simulations to provide a critical window into the complex ecosystem changes happening in our northern oceans

CUCCIO oversees the annual Canadian Higher Education Information Technology Conference, known as CANHEIT, which featured discussions on opportunities and challenges on the most topical themes in higher education IT today, from cloud computing to security, big data and shared services. HPCS provides insight into new tools, techniques and discoveries in computational intensive research.

This year’s event was held June 19-22 in held at University of Alberta’s Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science in Edmonton and drew more than 660 faculty, computational researchers in academia, industry and government, technical experts, vendors, and IT professionals in the higher education community across Canada, in addition to over 40 sponsoring companies.


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