Summer Internships in Parallel Computational Science

The Summer Internships in Parallel Computational Science (SIParCS) program seeks to develop students with backgrounds in computational science, applied mathematics, computer science, or the computational geosciences. The 11-week internships provide opportunities for exceptional students to gain practical experience with a wide variety of parallel computational science problems by working with the HPC systems and applications related to NCAR’s Earth System science mission. The ultimate goal of SIParCS is to address shortages of trained scientists and engineers capable of using and maintaining these high-end systems to achieve the goals of 21st-century computational geoscience research. SIParCS supports NCAR’s and CISL’s core missions in education and directly contributes to CISL’s strategic imperative to integrate research and education. CISL is teaching the mathematical and computational science concepts and skills that students will need to make effective use of advanced cyberinfrastructure.

SIParCS class of 2015
The SIParCS class of 2015 included 17 interns, plus one early-career visitor, Qian Zhang, who recently received her Ph.D. and was affiliated with the program. Pictured here are, left to right: Delilah Feng, Shreya Mittapalli, Mundabi Srivatsa, Whitney Nelson, Negin Sobhani, Vinay Ramakrishnaiah, Ian Bragg, Qian Zhang, Dongliang Chu, Sam Elliot, Collette Smirniotis, Gaston Seneza, Adnan Haider, Lee Richardson, Jenish Koirala, Albert Yao, Kyle Marcus, and Tuan Ta. SIParCS is an 11-week summer program run by CISL that provides undergraduate and graduate students with an opportunity work on research projects in the computational sciences that span computer science, applied mathematics, statistics, visualization, and software engineering.

The 2015 class of the SIParCS program was the second-largest in its nine-year history, with 17 students participating. It was also the most diverse, with three interns from Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), five female interns, and eight interns from seven different EPSCoR states. EPSCoR states are defined as those determined by the government to be underserved by federal research and education funding, and are thus eligible to receive funds to advance their research infrastructure through the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

Also varied were the types of projects students undertook with their mentors: they ranged from a team of four undergraduate students designing and building an end-to-end, cloud-based workflow for collecting, storing, and displaying real-time weather data on a website using low-cost Raspberry-Pi processors, to interns porting, benchmarking, and analyzing the performance of the WRF weather model. Others worked with graphics processing units (GPUs) to do raycasting of volumetric data (computing a 2D image from a 3D data set), simulate atmospheric equations, assimilate data into forecast models, or solve geostatistics problems, while others focused on enhancing the performance of climate models and climate data analysis workflows. Still others used high-performance tools to shed light on real-world geostatistics problems, such as understanding future changes in Rocky Mountain snowpack in response to projected climate change.

During the summer, SIParCS students had an opportunity for enrichment activities such as a technical writing seminar, high performance computing (HPC) training classes, and a field trip to the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) to see the Yellowstone supercomputer. At the end of the summer program, the interns presented their research results in NCAR’s main seminar room from 29–31 July.

The FY2015 SIParCS program was made possible by NSF Core funding.