Our Paths to HPC series, presented in collaboration with Women in HPC, showcases women working in high-performance computing. Our hope is that by highlighting these trailblazers—and the sometimes unique paths they followed into the field—other women will feel inspired to envision themselves in similar roles.
What was your path to working with HPC?
I was born and raised in Iran. I did a diploma in math, which was necessary for any future engineering degree. My parents were the ones who got me interested in electronics and computers.
As a kid, I had a soldering iron kit to play with, and I created LED boards as a hobby. My first computer had a DOS operating system, and I always wanted to crack open the computer case and see what was inside. I was later given a mini screwdriver set as a birthday gift, and I was left alone with the poor computer. I’ll let your imagination picture what happened next.
During my undergrad studies in computer engineering hardware, I was always fascinated by integrated circuits (chips) and arranging tiny electrical parts (components) to create electrical circuits. From there, I learned about CPUs, multicores, and computer architecture and learned my first hardware description language called VHDL (Very High Speed Integrated Circuit Hardware Description Language).
Fast forward to the future…I started a PhD to research accelerating logic gate circuit simulation using multicore and manycore architectures. Since then, optimization and acceleration of scientific applications using heterogeneous and homogenous architectures have become my thing.
What’s cool about working with HPC?
The cool thing about working with HPC is the growing architectural diversity and the challenge of keeping up to date with the latest technology. Moreover, I really enjoy helping other researchers port their scientific applications to parallel architectures such as Graphics Processor Units (GPUs), and optimize and accelerate it further.
Teaching students about high performance computing, what they can do with the processing power, and how to utilize it is also very rewarding. HPC training and education has a special place in my heart. Educating HPC users on how to take advantage of HPC systems is truly important.
What are some of the challenges you face or have faced in taking this path?
There are many challenges women and people from underrepresented groups face along the way, especially in a male-dominated field such as HPC. Being involved in a good network or community where you can relate to and find role models who have experienced similar situations or are aware of how to deal with them can be very helpful.
Challenges are everywhere: from dealing with stereotypes and microaggressions to constantly proving your worth at workplace, the gender pay gap, climbing the career ladder etc. The important thing is to learn how to turn obstacles into opportunities.
Are there any mentors or role models you would like to thank?
I would like to thank the Women in HPC organization and everyone involved. I learn something new every time I talk to each of these amazing inspiring women.