High Performance Computing degree

High-performance computing (HPC) integrates systems administration (including network and security knowledge) and parallel programming into a multidisciplinary field that combines digital electronics, computer architecture, system software, programming languages, algorithms and computational techniques. Formerly the domain of scientific research, the technology has shifted from supercomputers to clusters and grids of commercial off-the-shelf microcomputers, and thus moving HPC into the mainstream marketplace through business, education, government and the military. This shift has, in turn, created a demand for HPC technicians, who are in short supply. Colleges should incorporate HPC principles into existing and related IT programs and consider developing new curriculum to meet this growing industry demand.

  • Timing: HPC is deployed today in many research institutions and datacenter environments. HPC technicians are in short supply; however, the employer base is hard to identify. Colleges with robust computer information and/or computer science programs that are co-located near organizations with HPC environments should investigate the feasibility of an advanced certificate in HPC.
  • Relevance: HPC skills are an extension of traditional skills taught in many colleges. Faculty qualifications are important to the successful implementation of an HPC program. HPC can also be a costly program to implement. Cost burden may be offset by focusing on HPC programming and by using On-Demand HPC. For example, Nano-Hub enables anyone to download a free HPC grid appliance. The appliance enables one to run a development “virtual workspace” on a desktop and to deploy custom applications to the Nano-Hub Web site at www.nanohub.org.
  • Jobs: The pay range for HPC related occupations is $30, 000 to $120, 000 per year. Entry-level positions available to college graduates include application developers, test engineers, systems administrators and field support engineers.
  • Trends: During the past decade, HPC has migrated from almost exclusively scientific research to diversified industries, including commercial electronics, energy (petroleum, oil and gas), chemical, pharmaceutical, biomedical, life science, aerospace, automotive, entertainment, telecommunications, transportation, financial and defense.
  • Timing: HPC is deployed today in many research institutions and enterprise datacenter environments. HPC technicians are in short supply; however, the employer base is difficult to identify. Colleges with robust computer information and/or computer science programs that are co-located near organizations with HPC environments should update existing curriculum to include HPC principles and consider developing advanced certificates specializing in HPC. Colleges should monitor HPC, as this field of computing has the potential to grow into a large industry that redefines enterprise class computing between 2007-2012.
  • Relevance: HPC is relevant to colleges that have a robust IT and/or computer science curriculum...

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