HPC Career Case Studies

Gaining skills in High Performance Computing (HPC) opens the door to a whole variety of interesting jobs, both within the HPC community itself (running the supercomputers and developing the software they use), and in academic and commercial research, where the exceptional computing power of HPC systems is applied to real-world problems.

HPC is used to simulate experiments that are difficult to carry out any other way, because they are too big (e.g. modelling galaxies), too small (e.g. understanding nano-materials), too fast (e.g. nuclear fusion), too slow (the effects of climate change), too dangerous (predicting how fire moves through buildings), too invasive (simluating medical procedures), or too expensive (e.g. high-speed car crashes).

As High Performance Computing is always at the leading edge, working in HPC means tackling a wide range of different projects in a fast-moving environment - it's never dull!

"The significance of the work that we facilitate is what excites me; working on cutting-edge science and technologies which will influence the world in the future gives me a strong purpose" - Nix McDonnell, Irish Centre for High-End Computing

"HPC and simulation play a significant role in innovation for society (eg research in genetics, geophysics, health and energy, related big data processing)" - Elodie Ardoin, French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission

Our EXDCI Career Case Studies series demonstrates the range of career opportunities that are open to people with HPC skills. These case studies show that the paths that lead people to HPC are many and varied, with some people having a passion for computer programming from an early age, while others come via applied scientific domains. Similarly, once equipped with HPC skills, you will find your career can move in many different directions.

Read our case studies below to find out more!

  • Howard Price: Computer Games Developer
    Howard Price is a game programmer who worked for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe for 8 years, developing titles for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 consoles. Before working with Sony, he gained an MSc in High Performance Computing at EPCC (Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre) at the University of Edinburgh.
  • Romain Dolbeau: HPC Expert at Bull
    Romain Dolbeau works as an HPC Expert at the Center of Excellence in Parallel Computing of Bull, an Atos company. In this role, he works with pre-sales and support teams to help Atos customers fully leverage the computing power and energy savings brought by manycore technologies.
  • Eilidh Troup: Applications Consultant at EPCC
    Eilidh Troup is an Applications Consultant at Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC). She has a background in genetics, but discovered a passion for programming during a computational project in her final year at university, and is delighted to be able to combine these two interests at EPCC, working on HPC projects with a biological focus. Outside work, she loves cycling and reading.
  • Elodie Ardoin: High Performance Networks Architect
    Elodie Ardoin joined the seismic research division of CEA, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, in 2002, where she initially had a contract to work abroad for 2 years at a Bolivian seismic laboratory.  In 2009, she moved to the HPC division to work on high-performance networks, participating in storage network design and operations for the CRRT and TGCC supercomputing infrastructures.
  • Henri Doreau: CEA Research Engineer
    Henri Doreau is as a Research Engineer at CEA, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission. As a software developer, he contributes to numerous projects in high-performance storage and big data domains. Away from the keyboard, Henri nurtures a passion for literature and likes oenology, cooking, running and cycling.
  • Marta Garcia: BSC PhD Student
    Marta Garcia Gasulla is a PhD student at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), working in the distributed computing group. Her research is focused on improving the performance of HPC applications without modifying them. She enjoys the challenges of the constantly-evolving world of HPC and the idea that it contributes to advances in science. 
  • Rosa M. Badia: Research Manager at BSC
    Rosa M. Badia is a researcher and research manager at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), working in the Workflows and Distributed Computing research group and coordinating the Big Data activities. Her research is focused on programming models for complex platforms. Outside the office, she enjoys sports and spending time with friends.
  • Felip Moll Marquès: BSC System Administrator
    Felip Moll Marquès is a System Administrator at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center where he helps to ensure Spain's biggest supercomputer is always available for its users. He represents BSC in the EU project PRACE. His work takes him to many European HPC centres. Outside of work, he enjoys sailing and other sports and spending time by the sea.
  • Jure Jerman: Meteorologist
    Jure Jerman is a meteorologist at the Slovenian Environmental Agency (ARSO), and was one of the first to build a Linux cluster for operational weather forecasting. While the development of commercial HPC solutions means he no longer has to tinker with the system as much, he still finds working with HPC exciting. Outside the office, he enjoys applying his meteorology knowledge to sailing.
  • Nicola McDonnell: Consultancy & Solutions for Industry Activity Leader, ICHEC
    Nicola (Nix) McDonnell is the Consultancy & Solutions for Industry Activity Leader at the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC). Her work includes project management, project proposals coordination, and EC H2020 activities. Nix started as a chemist, briefly worked in marketing, and then began a love affair with computer science. Now, as a qualified Project Manager, she uses her talents and interests to propel her career in HPC.

Still not sure whether you are the right sort of person to work in HPC? The HPC community is a diverse workforce and your background should not be a barrier.  We recommend that you look at the following sites:

  • Diversity in HPC: The Diversity in HPC project aims to improve the participation of under-represented groups In the HPC and supercomputing community.  In particular, the Faces of HPC feature highlights the variety of people who have worked in HPC and its precursors.
  • Women in HPC: The Women in HPC network was created with the vision to encourage women to participate in the HPC community by providing fellowship, education, and support to women and the organizations that employ them.
  • EPCC MSc in HPC Alumni Profiles: Some of the alumni of the EPCC MSc in HPC tell us what they had been doing before the MSc, their reasons for choosing to take the course, and what they are doing now.