Job Title: Research Computing Specialist
How long have you worked for RC?
A little less than 3 years (2 years, 9 months).
What led you to a career in HPC?
I kind of fell into it. During college I worked at a small printing company as their "IT department" and after I was done I followed a girl up to to Boston. My original plan was to go to law school, but I couldn't keep away from computers. I guess you can say a girl made me do it.
What’s the best part of your job?
That's a tough one. It's tied between the team, and work.
The work is pretty amazing. A typical IT organization might frown upon our "shoot first, ask questions later" (within reason) approach. But I think it allows us to be more innovative, and makes the work exciting.
It also helps that we have such a great team. Who would have thought that a group of people from different fields and different backgrounds would work so well independently, and with each other. It makes problem solving fun, and brainstorming challenging.
Honestly, it's just great to be able to work without the usual constraints found in other IT shops.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
The work! While it may be fun, it is also pretty intense and non-stop. But this is to be expected when you're keeping up with innovation.
What’s the biggest misconception about RC or HPC in general?
The biggest misconception people have is they think RC is a large organization. First of all we are not part of any other IT groups in Harvard. It's very easy to look at our infrastructure of ~60,000 cores, 2,300 systems, ~10 Petabytes (PB) storage, ~3,000 users, and think that we are. But the truth is we are a very, very small shop (in terms of personnel) that happens to have extraordinary people performing a multitude of jobs. This allows us to to be on the cusp of the latest technological trends.
We are also able to provide a high level of service a large percentage of the the time, and when we falter, we quickly correct ourselves.
It's amazing seeing our communities reactions once they've come to our office hours or to our offices for meetings. They can't believe how small we are.
Given all the research conducted on RC’s Odyssey cluster, is there any one project that stands out for you?
BICEP2 was awesome, and knowing that our group provided some of the computing was really exciting.
If you could give RC users one piece of advice what would it be?
Take advantage of our resources, and give us feedback. The website, our weekly office hours (Wednesday 12-3), etc. I know that having a lot of information can be overwhelming, and it might not be presented in away that is easy to understand. If you provide us feedback on what we present you (web, or otherwise) we might be able to make a positive change.
And please, give us as much detailed information as possible. This will make the process exponentially faster.
Star Wars, Back to the Future, or The Matrix?
All, maybe even together?
Star Wars was a long time ago, yet it seemed like the future. Now the story is being continued (30 years later), so we're going back to it. And it all seems like a dream I can't wake up from.
Copyright © 2014. All Rights Reserved.
Information about how to reuse or republish this work may be available at Attribution.