Bringing next generation computing to the next generation of computing experts

By | 2 minute read | September 16, 2019

When people use a technology firsthand, it makes the path to a career in that field a plan instead of just a dream.

How, then, do you give access to an IBM Systems supercomputer like Summit to university students and researchers?

Hardware access might be available on the cloud, using the IBM Q Experience platform to run quantum services with either a quantum system or a simulator backend. Other situations might require on-premises hardware installations.

To get hardware access into the hands of students and faculty members, the IBM Global University Program fosters collaboration between IBM and university educators to facilitate growing academic/industry relationships.

This summer, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK) received a IBM Global University Program Award, allowing them to install a high-performance computing center on their campus. This new system uses the same IBM POWER9 technology that underpins Summit, the world’s most powerful supercomputer, at the nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Supporting the next generation of computing experts is a critical effort to help them graduate with confidence in their technical skills, and share their diverse insights. The feedback we can receive from students and researchers as they work and experiment with IBM technology helps us understand how to improve, and enables them to grow their technical skills across domains including mainframes, data architecture, cloud computing, AI, and quantum computing.

The research, development and business skills that students are exposed to in their university years shapes their career trajectories. It shapes the trajectory of university growth as well, as articulated by University of Tennessee Dongarra Professor, Michaela Taufer.

“UT-Knoxville hosts a vibrant HPC community that leads a comprehensive approach towards computational sciences,” said Professor Taufer. “Not only will this important IBM Award allow us to more closely align research in our department, but it will also create new opportunities to collaborate with industry partners like IBM and research partners. These new collaborations support the research that will bring us the next generation of supercomputers while also encouraging the education of HPC experts at UT and the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education.”

Figure 1: Jamie Thomas, Dr. Michaela Taufer, Dr. Mark Dean at the UT-Knoxville high-performance computing center

In addition to building technical skills, developing the next generation of talent also requires encouraging growth in their business skills for overall career development. By accessing mentorship and New Collar training programs through initiatives like P-tech, Apprenticeships, and the IBM Skills Academy, our collaboration with educators  provides an important part of the technical talent pipeline.

The school year is just starting for many university, community college, and K-12 students. I encourage everyone to explore ways you can build relationships with students, faculty, and educational organizations through mentorship, collaboration, and volunteering. Even if you don’t have a supercomputer in the building next door, building academic and industrial partnerships helps to develop the next generation of talent as we learn new and creative problem-solving approaches from each other.