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Supercomputing through the eyes of a 12-year-old

The Alces Flight team launches the Kid Intern Series – a light hearted look at HPC

When a series of HPC events hit the calendar of our CMO, Cristin Merritt, she had an idea.  Her son, 12-year-old Miles, a newly minted secondary student (“middle school” for those US-readers) had asked many times over the years about the work she did in supercomputing.  The events, a launch of the Viking 2 Cluster at the University of York and an HPC Education Interview at the University of Edinburgh, fell right into his school break.  So, armed with the politest of emails (as travelling meant he would miss the final two days before break) she got his permissions lined up, packed him onto a train, and took him for a great adventure.

“The idea we came up on our ride to York was to capture his experience in meeting and interviewing the people of HPC,” Cristin said.  “Miles is genuinely interested in my work with tech and communications, and I felt his insight would not only bring a different perspective to our field, but also inject a bit of fun.”

The first series on the Viking 2 Launch were an exercise in everything that could go right (and wrong) when having a pre-teen guide the production.  “He had to learn to pace his words, not rush, and think about his movements,” Cristin noted, “This was a big ask!  We also seemed to have mic issues that only appeared in editing, which meant some of our interviews didn’t make it – but we found a way to make it work in the end.”  One of the key factors to the first series success was the amazing presenters and attendees at the University of York’s launch… All of whom were happy to talk to Miles about their work.  “All he kept saying was how kind everyone was, how cool everyone’s jobs were.  He was just full of energy and excitement and it shows on camera.  I want to extend a huge thank you to the Research IT team who allowed him to ask all sorts of questions about their work.”

The locations for filming also were a big draw to the budding HPC communications expert.  Both the ISA Building, home to Autonomous Systems at York, and the uCreate Facilities at the University of Edinburgh, housed a treasure trove of cutting edge technology.  “Miles loved being able to tour and engage with the latest technical tools being developed at both sites,” Cristin noted, “from watching robots solve Rubix Cubes to utilising real media facilities, I’m very grateful to our partners and collaborators for opening the doors to their sites and allowing a 12-year-old explore them.”

The Kid Intern Series on the Viking 2 Launch is available now on the Alces Flight YouTube Channel.  Be sure to subscribe for his second series highlighting supercomputing education at the University of Edinburgh, part of our Move the Needle project.

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