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High School Students from Oakland, San Ramon Tour NERSC

February 13, 2015


Students from Oakland Tech High School toured NERSC and learned about careers in computing. (Photo: Margie Wylie, LBNL)

This week, two groups of students from East Bay high schools descended on the Oakland Scientific Facility to learn more about supercomputing and networking.

On Wednesday, Feb. 11, 30 students from a computer science class at Doherty Valley High School in San Ramon visited. Richard Gerber, head of NERSC’s User Services Group, gave the students an introduction to the center and scientific computing, followed by a tour of the machine room.

 On Thursday, Feb. 12, 31 students from the Computer Academy at Oakland Technical High School rode the bus down Broadway for a tour of the machine room and a Q&A session on computing-related careers. David Skinner and Jon Bashor gave the students of an overview of NERSC and the kinds of problems tackled by users. After a machine room tour, the students spent 45 minutes in a career-focused Q&A session with Skinner, Annette Greiner and John Shalf. The visit was part of the school’s Career Pathways program aimed at bridging what students learn in the classroom with career options at local institutions.

After the visit, many of the Oakland Tech students wrote about their impressions of the center. Here are several excertps:

David Skinner gives Oakland Tech students a peek inside Edison, the center's.

David Skinner gives Oakland Tech students a peek inside Edison, the center's flagship supercomputer. (Photo: Margie Wylie, LBNL)

“The field trip was a great experience for all of us in the class learning computer science. The field trip was very informative and exciting. The things that we saw helped us learn more about things we learned in our class. Actually seeing big data in person gives me a better understanding of how big data works. The answers that you provided to our questions were very informative and provides me with further incentive to obtain a degree in computer science. Working in a lab like that seems like a meaningful and interesting job that I wish to have in the future.”

“It was the first time that I have seen a supercomputer in person. I was surprised to see just how large the room that contained the computers really was. Rows after rows or computers were fun to walk around in. Almost like a technological garden, with a slight breeze of fans. I was also surprised at how loud the room was. My favorite part of the supercomputer room was the tape machine. It was mesmerizing to see the mechanical arm move the tapes around. I also appreciate the Q&A session. It was very informative.”

“Thank you very much for the wonderful tour of your facility. I was able to get a lot out of the trip and it was very fascinating to see a supercomputer first hand. All of my questions were explained very well. I hope that you will continue to provide these experiences to the future generations and classes, because this is something that will make people interested in the computer science field. We need more computer scientists, because they are the future in technology. Thank you very much for the wonderful experience.”

About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

High performance computing plays a critical role in scientific discovery. Researchers increasingly rely on advances in computer science, mathematics, computational science, data science, and large-scale computing and networking to increase our understanding of ourselves, our planet, and our universe. Berkeley Lab’s Computing Sciences Area researches, develops, and deploys new foundations, tools, and technologies to meet these needs and to advance research across a broad range of scientific disciplines.