27. 03. 14
On March 27, HLRS once again participated in the nation wide initiative „Girls’Day 2014“ and hosted 15 female students of local high schools (gymnasiums). Goal of the activity was to have the girls get a taste of what High Performance Computing (HPC) and High Performance Simulation Technologies are about: To get an introduction to the areas of applications, the objectives and the benefit of supercomputing in the manifold fields of science and research.
At 9:30am, the girls’ special day at HLRS began. Following a warm welcome by Mrs. Lampke (Head of Administration), the students were escorted to the HLRS programming labs where they were briefly introduced to specific software packages and programming tools. The girls were able to run a simulation program on HLRS’s flagship computer Hermit – a supercomputer with a peak performance of more than 1 Petaflop/s (= 1 quadrillion mathematical calculations per second).
A day at HLRS wouldn't be complete would it not include a visiting tour through the HLRS computer room facilities and an introduction to HPC system Hermit, one of the most powerful supercomputers in all of Europe, as well as a visitation of the HLRS CAVE. This Cave Automatic Virtual Environment is a state-of-the-art 3D Visualization Center for 3D and Virtual Reality presentations. The girls were made aware of the fact, that today’s powerful supercomputing resources generate such huge mounds of data that researches increasingly employ equally powerful tools supporting them to better understand and analyze the simulation results. The HLRS CAVE offers such possibilities as the visualization means enable the conversion of data into three-dimensional models and views which allow researchers to see their simulation results visually and which provides them with the option to more intuitively portray and work with the simulation data. By the scientists stepping into these visualization environments, they are literally able to interact directly with the machine.
Apart from the excursion into the world of Virtual Reality, the girls also had some hands-on experience with very real hardware components of a computer: A computer motherboard. By dismantling, the girls learned how individual parts of a computer - the CPU, memory, hard drives, optical drives and other parts -- all connect to the motherboard directly or via cables and what the individual functions of these components are.
The grande finale of the girls’ day at HLRS meant the actual trial of their own 3D-models and check their functionality. In the CAVE, the girls were able to visually observe and interact with their computer generated virtual objects. With a touch sensor they e. g. were able to trigger the animation of a ball or move the individual objects around.
The girls’ interest in simulation technologies has been arisen and the entire team of female HLRS scientists who led the girls’ through this informative day at the HLRS High Performance facilities very much hope that the girls will pursue it.