Q&A with HPC Immersion Chairs Erika Parsons and Matthew Fuentes

HPC Immersion

Erika Parsons, PhD

University of Washington-Bothell, HPC Immersion Chair

Dr. Parsons received her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, working with the Innovative Computing Laboratory. She worked as an SDET for the Developer Division (.NET Framework) at Microsoft. Parsons rediscovered her passion for academic work and became a faculty member at Washington State University and Everett Community College, prior to joining UW Bothell where she currently works as a full-time faculty member.

Matthew Fuentes

Everett Community College, HPC Immersion Chair

Matthew graduated from the University of Tennessee in Aerospace Engineering. He has seen the positive transformation higher education can make on a person’s life particularly to those taking a “nontraditional” route. He specifically chose to teach at community college to help students realize their potential. Particularly students that may not have had the privilege or the means to attend a university right away.

What is HPC Immersion?

HPC Immersion (HPCI) was inaugurated last year at SC20. The focus is on welcoming and supporting new undergraduate students to the vast HPC world. Matthew and I have noticed that undergraduate students don’t know much about super-computing, and by the time they choose to take a course in it, they graduate, so it is almost too late. We foster HPCI to bridge that gap. We would like to raise undergraduate student interest early on, so that they can smoothly follow that path.

At the beginning of fall, awardees will be invited to a few virtual team building activities and introduced to HPC. Before the conference starts, small guided groups will be formed, each of which will include at least one SCALE student. The groups will focus on specific topic areas of SC with student volunteer(s) that will help them navigate the conference and lead discussions. Each guided interest group will include either remote or on-site participation. HPCI students will also take part in student programming, giving their lightning talk, and taking part in team building activities, either remotely or in-person. The goal is to build lasting relationships and to take a deep dive into the exciting world of HPC!

What will the second edition look like?

Students will have access to seasoned student volunteers that know how to navigate the conference. They will also be Included in the Students@SC events and activities. This is a great way for awardees to meet participants and start networking. We know that SC can be overwhelming even to a professional, so we make sure that awardees have several people that they can follow to learn how things work. We will (Erika and Matthew) also be around to help. On the last day of the conference, participants will give a lightning talk which is a short presentation based on their experience at the conference. Again, for this exercise the awardees will not be left alone. They will be able to find mentors to help them orchestrate and produce their talk.

Our ultimate objective is that participants will become student volunteers in the future and find a career in HPC!

What is the application process?

Applications will close on June 28. We understand that students that are in the early stages of their academic path may not know many professionals or faculty yet so the requested recommendations are viewed as a support document as opposed to a critical factor in the application. Please reach out to us if you have any difficulties finding a recommender. We expect each participant to attend the entire conference either remotely or in person. Balancing school and the conference can be a bit of a challenge. Students will need to work with their faculty and/or academic advisor to determine how to move assignment dates or complete work early. We are happy to work with the students that get accepted to determine what works best for them. Keep in mind that we are both faculty professors and happy to work with the participants.

How are students selected?

We are looking for students that will use this experience to shape them both academically and professionally. We are planning to accept between 15 and 20 students that are ideally early in their undergraduate academic path. In the application, don’t just give us a list of your accomplishments, tell us what you are missing or feel like you are missing out on. We are looking for applicants that may not have the privilege of participating in an HPC activity. For example, you may be from a university that doesn’t have access to a supercomputer, doesn’t teach any courses related to HPC, or someone that is just getting started at a community college.

Don’t miss the deadline! Applications close June 28, 2021.

Apply Today


Christine Baissac-Hayden, SC21 Students@SC Communications Liaison

Christine Baissac-Hayden created Easy English 4 All, which provides multilingual communication tools for clients from diverse backgrounds in the renewable energy, medical, defense, marine science, and film industries. Easy English 4 All provides English as a Second Language (ESL), French, Spanish and Japanese tutoring from certified native-speaking teachers and organizes international student exchanges with personalized objectives and goals.

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