Interview: SHARCNET's Hugh Couchman

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

The first of our two sponsor interviews today is with SHARCNET's Prof. Hugh Couchman.

Tell us a bit about your organization and its goals.

SHARCNET provides high-performance computing (HPC) resources and services to researchers in Ontario and Canada. Our goal is to promote and facilitate the use of HPC techniques among researchers in all fields and to train a new generation of computationally-skilled individuals for the benefit of competitive research, the economy and society in Canada.

Tell us a bit about the software your group uses.

As a part of the National Platform provided by Compute Canada we support users from all disciplines needing HPC and, consequently, a huge range of software and tools that are used in the HPC environment. The software ranges over every conceivable type of commercial, public domain and home-written software.

Who are you hoping Software Carpentry will help?

Primarily students. SHARCNET provides advanced training in the use of HPC specifically, but does not provide extensive instruction in the basic techniques of good code design and project management including code verification, debugging, profiling, data handling etc. Many students do not have the basic skills to undertake computational projects in the most effective way let alone be well placed to tackle complexities associated with parallel applications.

How will you tell what impact the course has had?

I have found that most students who have expressed interest in working with me and an interst in computational techniques fairly readily pick up on the best practices when exposed to them and so there would be a benefit simply from receiving training in these methods/techniques. One would hope that SHARCNET staff might similarly notice improvements in the use of coding practices, version control etc.

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