Advancing HPC Education at Iowa State

Glenn Luecke, Professor of Mathematics, envisions a world where more and more people can use High Performance Computing (HPC) to solve problems. He's doing his part to make that happen. "It's very important to know how to use these machines," he said.

Luecke has been involved with High Performance Computing for more than 30 years. Under his direction, ISU's student cluster of high performance machines has recently been updated with funding provided by the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Engineering.

"The student cluster has been updated with the newest GPU and Phi processors," Luecke said. The student cluster is a small version of CyEnce, the new cluster purchased with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). "The student cluster uses the same software making it easy to move applications to CyEnce," he said.

HPC machines are not easy to use. However, you don't have to be an HPC expert to use them, he said. "You can rely on applications that are already optimized on these machines. But developing your own parallelized applications can be challenging."

Glenn Luecke

Luecke has been teaching graduate level HPC courses at Iowa State for many years, using older machines. "Some of the students in the graduate class had difficulty passing the class because they had no background in HPC," he said. With the introduction of an undergrad HPC class in the spring, some graduate students can take the introductory course for undergrad credit, he said, so they are prepared for the graduate level HPC course.

High Performance Computing has many applications in the "real world," some of them in areas you would not expect. Obvious fits for ISU grads include companies like John Deere, Ford, GM and Boeing, with engineering and agriculture connections. But parallel computing, which is what HPC does, is also used heavily in financial analysis, Luecke said.

"Many companies can't compete without HPC. For example, the auto industry uses HPC all the time."

Luecke has been awarded more than $6 million in contracts and grants performing a wide variety of HPC research activities for a number of organizations including the U.S. Department of Defense, IBM, NASA and Cray Inc.

For more information about HPC at ISU visit the HPC website.