Compute Canada’s Women in HPC (WomenHPC) initiative creates opportunities for early career women and researchers in high performance computing


Dr. Peg Williams, Senior Vice President of Research and Development, Cray


OTTAWA, ONTARIO, October 17, 2016 Over 50 participants from across Canada came together for an event in Ottawa celebrating the role of women in high performance computing (HPC) careers. Hosted by Compute Canada, the Women in HPC (WHPC) outreach event brought together people from all stages of their careers and from all sectors, including corporate organizations, research institutions, and academia.

The event included a special reception, lightning talks from inspirational women working in HPC and featured keynote Dr. Peg Williams, Senior Vice President, Research and Development, responsible for software and hardware engineering efforts for all of Cray’s research and development projects.

“We were thrilled to have somebody of Dr. Williams calibre join us at our event,” said Kelly Nolan, Executive Director of External Affairs for Compute Canada, and a member of the International Advisory Board  of WHPC. “Celebrating leaders in HPC and fostering a space for students and early career women to connect to them, is an important component of our initiative.”

“Today, a lack of skilled workers is the biggest challenge facing high performance computing. One of the ways we can address this is to recruit more women to a sector that has traditionally been dominated by men because we know that growing our advanced research computing expertise is critical to our country’s ability to be globally competitive.”

Nolan explained the role mentors like Dr. Williams play in encouraging more women to participate in the HPC community.

“Certainly, one of the goals of WHPC is to improve the visibility of inspirational role models. It’s absolutely vital — for young women especially — to look at Dr. Williams and see her career path as something that is possible to achieve.

Compute Canada is the first international partner to join WHPC, a British organization that aims to increase the representation of women in advanced research computing through fellowships, education, mentorship and support.

Dr. Williams spoke about her career path in the HPC industry, and shared how the research and scientific breakthroughs achieved by her customers have inspired her throughout her career.

“At Cray, we strongly believe the supercomputers we build are the tools our customers need to solve the world’s most challenging problems. Whether it’s powering the world’s weather forecasts, designing safer cars, or helping battle major causes of hunger in East Africa, I am continually inspired by what supercomputers allow researchers and scientists to accomplish. For young women that are intrigued by a career in HPC, you have the ability to impact people’s lives on a daily basis.”

High performance computing plays a central role to Canadian innovation, and is used across disciplines from advanced manufacturing and life sciences to environmental monitoring and the humanities. Researchers are using HPC to build better products, develop new drugs, create new advanced materials and reap the benefits of big data analytics.

“We were very pleased to act as host of this event, along with our partners IBM and Cray” says Mark Dietrich, President and CEO of Compute Canada. “We understand how important it is to Canadian scientific discovery to not only build the infrastructure of a national platform for advanced research computing, but to also enable innovation across Canada by helping to develop a diverse and well-prepared 21st century workforce.”


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For more information, contact:

Kelly Nolan, Executive Director External Affairs
Compute Canada
(819) 598-2910


About Compute Canada

Compute Canada, in partnership with regional organizations ACENET, Calcul Québec, Compute Ontario and WestGrid, leads the acceleration of research innovation by deploying state-of-the-art advanced research computing (ARC) systems, storage and software solutions. Together we provide essential ARC services and infrastructure for Canadian researchers and their collaborators in all academic and industrial sectors. Our world-class team of more than 200 experts employed by 35 partner universities and research institutions across the country provide direct support to research teams. Compute Canada is a proud ambassador for Canadian excellence in advanced research computing nationally and internationally.


Find out more:

Twitter: @ComputeCanada


About Women in HPC (WHPC)

Women in HPC (WHPC) is an international network created to encourage women to participate in the HPC community by providing fellowship, education, and support to women and the organizations that employ them. For more information, visit the WHPC website.


About Margaret A. (Peg) Williams

Peg Williams serves as Senior Vice President, Research and Development, responsible for software and hardware engineering efforts for all of Cray’s research and development projects. Dr. Williams has more than 20 years of experience in the high performance computing industry. Prior to joining Cray in 2005, she was vice president of database technology for IBM, where she managed their HPC software and AIX development and held various additional positions in HPC software development. Her extensive HPC experience also includes leading the user support team at the Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC). Dr. Williams received a B.S. in mathematics and physics from Ursinus College and an M.S. in mathematics and a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Lehigh University.






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