Students receive hands-on research experience on supercomputers at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Song Jiang (left), Kei Davis, Tricia Fernandez and Michael Morgan at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.


By Song Jiang, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering

This summer, a team from the Wayne State’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering spent ten weeks in Los Alamos, NM, to work on-site with researchers of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) on issues critical to today’s high-performance computing. The team consisted of Song Jiang, associateprofessor of electrical and computer engineering, and undergraduate students Tricia Fernandez and Michael Morgan. They were supported by the Faculty and Student Teams (FaST) Program, jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science and the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

The program was created to enable undergraduate students to undertake hands-on research training at DOE national laboratories, and to support academic faculty collaboration with laboratory research scientists to identify and conduct mutually beneficial research projects.

Under the guidance of LANL scientist Dr. Kei Davis in the Computer, Computational and Statistical Sciences Division, one of the team’s objectives was to develop and optimize a tool for collecting performance data in large-scale supercomputers.  The tool facilitates the aggregation and correlation of performance data from multiple sources, and provides flexible, convenient, and extensible user interfaces and presentations of that data. 

In their projects the students had a unique opportunity to actually experiment with a parallel computer consisting of thousands of processor cores, and to develop their parallel programming and system performance testing skills.

“This is really a wonderful program that brings students and researchers from academia and the national labs together at a state-of-the-art computing facility,” says Jiang. “This certainly helps our students gain insight into the importance of high-performance computing for today’s science and technology development, and hopefully the experience will encourage them to aim higher in their continued pursuit of academic and career goals.”

Jiang added, “Our research group has been in collaboration with Kei for years on high-performance computing projects and has published a number of significant papers. Nonetheless, being on site for an extended period of time enables more effective communication and collaboration.” 

The students’ comments conveyed their own enthusiasm. Morgan stated, “LANL provided me with valuable experience in the area of parallel computing,” while Fernandez noted, “This was a great opportunity to explore the field of high-performance scientific computing—not just the computer science aspects, but also how it is being used in modern scientific inquiry.”

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