SC19: Empowered to lead the way in Mozambique!

by Vitalina Baptista, HPC Systems Administrator at MoRENet (Mozambique Research and Education Network)

It all started with an email I received from Bryan Jonhston at the Centre for High Performance Computing in South Africa (CHPC). He shared the STEM-Trek call for participation (which provides support to attend SC19 for those who are selected, and the competition is steep!). I was not going to apply; there were many factors to my disadvantage, including the financial one.

Two weeks before the deadline, Bryan again insisted that I submit my application.

So I applied. But I confess I didn’t have much hope of being selected.

But when I least expected it, I received a positive response from STEM-Trek’s Elizabeth Leake. At that time, there was no guarantee of support, but she asked me to wait while she searched for more funding. My hopes arose, once again.

STEM-Trek distributed registration waivers that were donated by the SC19 General Chair Michela Taufer. CHPC, which greatly contributed to the implementation of the HPC in Mozambique, supported my accommodation, and MoRENet contributed to my airfare and other expenses. Via their donation to STEM-Trek, Google provided a team-building dinner for the African HPC Ecosystems group and several sysadmins and managers from U.S. centers. By the grace of God and the efforts of these organizations, my participation in this great conference was made possible. And there I was, for the first time in the U.S., and for the first time at SC. A dream come true!

Honestly, I didn’t imagine the tremendous size of the conference. But neither did I imagine how scientific and High Performance Computing (HPC) are used and contribute to the advancement of research in so many different fields and areas of knowledge.

SC19 took place at the Colorado Convention Center, Denver, U.S. More than 13,600 attended, and each day was packed with workshops and tutorials in parallel sessions, birds-of-a-feather meetings and informal discussions. With so much to choose from, it took a while to decide what to attend.

I’m a Systems Administrator in the HPC area at MoRENet (Mozambique Research and Education Network), but it wasn’t always that way.

First I graduated with a degree in Computer Engineering. Then I had the great opportunity to work as an intern in Systems and Applications Administration at MoRENet. About six months ago I had the challenging opportunity to be part of the HPC team, a new area under implementation at MoRENet. I am the only woman in HPC, and one of the few women in the MoRENet technical area.

Today, as an HPC Systems Administrator, I have been working hard and trying to develop a better understanding of the vast world of HPC.

My participation in the SC19 was a fascinating experience. I’m now inspired and motivated to overcome the challenges that lie ahead. It was a great time and unique learning experience.

At SC19, I had the privilege of meeting women who are part of the HPC community – through the NGO, Women in HPC (WHPC). I attended sessions where I learned critical knowledge, including: Parallel Computing 101; 6th International Workshop on HPC User Support Tools; WHPC: Diversifying the HPC Community and Engaging Male Allies; Training and Education for HPC System Administrators BoF; Community Building for Sustainable and Scalable HPC Outreach; and others.

From this conference, my horizons were opened and my vision has been awakened. I found that OpenHPC is a large community and ‘family’ where I can find support to overcome the many challenges that lie ahead. In the future, I’ll be helping with the expansion of the HPC ecosystem in Mozambique, managing and maintaining the HPC infrastructure and training HPC professionals and beginners.

SC19 showed me that it’s not only possible, I now feel empowered to lead the way!

So many people worked together to make SC19 possible – more than:
780 volunteers, 370 exhibitors, 1,150 presenters, and a record 13,950 attendees.

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