Girls' Day 2016

29 April 2016

On April 28th HLRS participated in the Girls' Day 2016. The nationwide open day for girls at the age of 10 years and over, funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research as well as the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, is a chance to get an insight into technical professions.

In a hands-on session the pupils examined the airflow around the wing of an airplane. By changing the shape and the angle of attack they inspected the velocity and the resulting forces and got an idea of how these parameters can influence the fuel consumption.  

Energy consumption was the subject of a talk by a member of the sustainability group at HLRS. The resources needed to operate one of the fastest supercomputers in the world were compared to the computer systems which the girls use in their daily life. 

After those subjects which demanded a huge amount of concentration it was time to do something with their hands. With screwdrivers, the pupils attacked computer boards derived from a former server system. Processors, coolers, north and south bridge and several components were explained and the girls were happy to take a souvenir home.

The afternoon started with a visit to Hazelhen, the Nehalem Cluster and the tape storage system. The girls showed great interest in the huge computer systems, in the state of the art of high performance computing and in the question of selecting appropriate hardware for special applications.    

But how can the engineer handle those huge amounts of data generated by Hazelhen & Co.? And how can the scientist convince people who are not specialists for her field of research? One possibility is to visualize the data and present the results in a virtual reality environment. In the CAVE the girls had the opportunity to take a close look at the airflow around a car and examine the particle streams even beneath the object. A hydro energy project in the Black Forest showed how virtual reality can help to inspect the change of the landscape in advance.

The software used in the CAVE is COVISE, developed at HLRS many years ago and extended by numerous people around the world. Programming is an essential skill for people engaged at HLRS. In a session the girls wrote a program summing up all numbers less or equal to a given number. Thereby they learned about variables, loops and conditions in a higher programming language. Eagerly they found the solution in small groups. 

The day ended with a ride in the driving simulator, which wasgreat fun for the girls and for us, too. We are really glad that they will gain a driver license in two years at the earliest.   

We had a really good time with this vigorous and interested group and hope that they will keep their curiosity of technical things.