Showcasing Canadian research & innovation to the world
Message from Lindsay Sill, WestGrid's Executive Director
Last month, WestGrid joined Compute Canada at SC’16 to showcase our nation’s research, innovation, and expertise in advanced research computing. The Canadian Pavilion highlighted Compute Canada’s updated technology plan
for its four new national sites, and featured displays promoting its national research data management
(RDM) project, its federated elastic cloud computing
service, and one of the fastest long-distance academic big data transfers in Canada
. For some fun, we had Canadian-themed photo booth props (like the raccoon hat I'm modelling in the photo to the right) and handed out Compute Canada branded toques
Our region had a strong presence at the event with Ryan Enge
from the University of Victoria representing the Compute Canada Cloud team, and Jason Hlady, Todd Trann, and Robert Wagner from the University of Saskatchewan representing the RDM project.
The networking and learning opportunities at these kinds of events are invaluable, and Ryan was able to make some excellent connections with other innovators in cloud. Similarly, Todd fielded a number of questions from delegates interested in the RDM project’s federated research data repository
(FRDR), of which he’s the lead developer. Once finished, this RDM technology could provide the basis of a federated and national service to help organize, preserve, discover, and reuse research data – something other countries may be keen to replicate!
Over the course of my week at SC’16, three key themes emerged for me. First, the need for diversity in the workplace was a hot topic this year, with champions calling for greater engagement and inclusion of women and minorities in HPC. I was pleased to see Women in HPC
(WHPC) and its Director and co-Founder Toni Collis recognized with HPCwire Readers' and Editors' Choice Awards
for all the work they’ve done in promoting diversity.
Second, we hosted visits from groups of local high school students at the Compute Canada booth, and for me that reinforced the need for encouraging more people to choose careers in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM). Whether it’s youth just starting out or adults ready for a change, there is an incredible demand for highly qualified personnel (HQP) across all STEM sectors, disciplines, and industries.
Lastly, while I already knew our country was a great place to call home, I was surprised at the number of “How do I immigrate to Canada?” questions I received at the booth this year. As word spreads that Canada is a desirable place to live, work and do research, I foresee this leading to a valuable brain gain for our country, which I hope we can support. As Compute Canada CEO Mark Dietrich noted in a recent Compute Canada blog post
, it is critical that we continue to invest in advanced research computing because it is essential infrastructure for innovation.
Congratulations to the entire team of Compute Canada and regional staff who attended SC’16 -- I think we did an excellent job of showcasing Canada to the world!