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Q&A with SC21 SCALE Co-Chair Rocío Carratalá-Sáez

From Student Volunteer to SCALE Co-Chair – Rocío Has Evolved with SC!

rocio carratala saez

Rocío Carratalá-Sáez received her BSc in Computational Mathematics at the Universitat Jaume I (UJI) of Castellón (Spain) in 2015 and MSc in Parallel and Distributed Computing at the Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain) in 2016. She was a PhD candidate in the Department of Computer Science Engineering at UJI and successfully presented her thesis March of 2021.

Her main research interest is High Performance Computing, focused on the parallelization of linear algebra operations for Hierarchical Matrices (H-Matrices). She is also interested in Computing Science teaching in general, but more particularly in the Parallel and Distributed Computing field.

Her educational background and research focus brought her to SC. Rocío started her SC adventure at SC18, where she was a student volunteer. At SC19 she was selected as a lead student volunteer (now known as SCALE). She integrated her first Students@SC Committee role at SC20, as the Scavenger Hunt Chair and member of the Student Volunteers Committee. For SC21 Rocío is Co-Chair of the SCALE program with Karlyn Harrod.

What made you come back every year?

Networking is definitely what I value most. Thanks to attending SC conferences I’ve met professors, researchers, and professionals from all over the world. It takes about 20 hours for me to reach the U.S. from my home. That created a bit of jet lag, though that is definitely not at all important when the benefits of attending SC are considered.

The first year I attended SC I was selected as a student volunteer. That provided me with the opportunity to understand how such a big conference is organized. After that, I came back the following year as a lead student volunteer, and that was an awesome experience that introduced me to many SC committee members. Since then, I have been part of the Students@SC Committee, and I feel so honored for having the opportunity to be on the “organizing side” of the conference, and somehow collaborate on keeping things moving.

What is your best memory?

I have several moments that will last in my memory forever, for sure.

When I attended as a student, I particularly remember the moment when I gave a Lightning Talk while the General Chair of SC19, Michela Taufer, was part of the audience. What an inspiring moment!

Apart from that humbling moment, there are tons of wonderful memories related to personal relationships. Many times at SC, I met people on a professional basis that led to true friendships. Today, I know that I am welcomed to visit my SC friends in many different places around the globe, and the same applies to them. I cannot wait to welcome all my SC friends in Spain as soon as the health crisis is over.

Why do you think students should take part in this program?

I do not consider myself an SC expert, but I have some experience that I hope can help others, especially students, to better benefit from SC while at the conference.

First of all, remember to never be shy! That is something I keep repeating to all the students participating in the different Students@SC programs. I always explain that from the perspective of a student, especially first-time attendees, SC can resemble “a huge transatlantic, seen from a small boat in the middle of the ocean“. That is impressive for sure, and can constrain or limit spontaneity and participation. It is crucial to lose those barriers and leverage all the great opportunities the conference offers. Most importantly, in terms of networking, if there is someone you are interested to meet, go and introduce yourself, or try to find someone that can ease the connection. Every time I connected with someone, I got great feedback and had interesting conversations, as well as new connections. In the end, always remember that even the greatest transatlantic needs to be surrounded by small boats that act as lifeboats. Students are the next generation of HPC, which is as important as the most experienced scientific community.

What do you expect from SC21?

The SCALE Program is implementing many changes that are not limited to the name, which is an acronym for Student Committee Apprenticeship and Leadership Experience.

I want to highlight that SCALE participants, better known as “SCalers”, have started their participation in the program in February. Thanks to that, most of them have already been involved in several committee meetings and activities, according to their assigned roles. This early involvement is very important and aligned with what we expect the students get from SCALE — a side-by-side with different SC Committee members’ experiences in such a way that they are acting and seen as “junior committee members”, and are able to start their path to join the SC Committee.

So what I expect most from SC21 is to be able to personally guide our SCalers, together with Karly, in such a way that they get the most from this SC conference, and start walking the path to become SC committee members!

How can students begin their SC journey?

Applications to become a student volunteer are being accepted through June 28. 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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