Student Program: Welcome Undergraduate and Graduate Scholars!

The ACM PEARC21 virtual student program begins on Sunday, July 18, 2021; one day before the general conference so that first-time conference-goers can learn the ropes before taking full advantage of the general conference workshops, tutorials, and keynote addresses.

Students are encouraged to submit posters and papers via the general conference call for participation. But if they lack experience with preparing a poster or paper for submission to a technical conference, they will learn a range of confidence-boosting technical, facilitation, and communication skills on Sunday.

There will be two morning parallel tracks focused on technical and facilitation skills. In the afternoon, a single career-focused track will include an internship spotlight, speed networking, and opportunity to chat with a range of prospective employers. The combination of experiences will help students envision themselves in various research computing and data science (RCD) careers with academia, industry, and government. 

We are thrilled to know that U.S. National Science Foundation and Department of Defense Research Experiences for Undergrads (NSF, DoD-REU) scholars specializing in social science, cybersecurity, and computational biology will attend PEARC21, so our networking element will be especially rich this year. Additionally, students will rub elbows with world-class research scientists, performance computing industry icons, and commercial tech representatives through guided and independent break-out sessions and gaming. 

Sunday Morning

1. Technical: Among technical highlights is a program developed by specialists at the University of Minnesota and their collaborators which includes a Gateway lesson that acquaints learners with fundamental concepts and ideas. For example, “Eight Beginner Lessons,” covers topics ranging from Geospatial Data to Cyberinfrastructure (CI) using Jupyter Notebooks. 

2. Facilitation: This track explores practice and experience in facilitating the acquisition, operation, and use of advanced hardware, software, networks, and services to securely and sustainably advance research in science, engineering, medicine, manufacturing, scholarship, public services, the arts, etc. This track will also cover a range of RCD communication and outreach skills. For example, we will discuss best practices for communicating the danger of persistent and emerging cybersecurity threats. 

Sunday Afternoon

3. Careers: Participants will have an opportunity to learn about the rapidly evolving RCD employment landscape from employers and fellow students who have participated in internships with national laboratories, academic research institutions, or commercial enterprises. This experience helps them envision themselves in careers they may not otherwise imagine. 

a. Internship Spotlight: Students will deliver lightening talks about internships they have completed (For example, the XSEDE Empower program—both student interns and their employers). We will invite national labs and industry partners to participate; they may also wish to promote their own opportunities to this captive audience of top-notch prospects.

b. Student Mentor Program: First-time conference attendees, or students who have just begun to envision themselves in an RCD career, are paired with mentors who have traveled the path before them. We encourage the mentor-mentee relationship to continue after the conference concludes. The conference mentor’s duty is to guide their assigned student/s through the conference experience, offer advice, select sessions best suited for the student’s anticipated academic and career path, and share personal anecdotes about their personal career trajectories. 

c. Speed Networking: Students meet one-on-one with PEARC21 exhibitor representatives who share their enthusiasm for advanced computing, visualization, data analysis, and research. In this event, students meet each representative in two-minute intervals, which helps them optimize their elevator pitch; first impressions with prospective employers often lead to fulfilling careers. Many participating vendors have commented that PEARC is a great recruiting tool for them – particularly when seeking well-trained students who are interested in advanced computing and data analytics careers.

d. Student Volunteer Program: This is an excellent way for students to gain an understanding of how conferences are managed, and to network with other students who are passionate about advanced research computing. Student Volunteers receive an all-access pass to the full conference, including tutorials. By assisting conference managers, they have a unique opportunity to meet and learn from leading researchers, professionals, and educators.

e. Health and wellness: Since March 2020, many of us have juggled the demands of family, work, and wellness while confined to our homes. Some lost jobs, and others had to retrain for new occupations. Two-income families learned how to get by on one or no income; some had to ask for help or wait in miles-long queues at food banks for the first time. What coping strategies did we learn from this experience that can be shared with others who struggle? Students are welcome to submit posters and papers with this theme in mind. 

What is a virtual conference experience like? Ask Ana and Alexa!

A person smiling for the camera Description automatically generated“I was excited to attend the PEARC20 conference for the first time in 2020. Even in a virtual mode, the week was intense – almost as if I had attended in person,” said Ana Luisa Veroneze Solorzano (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, left). For a day-by-day, first-hand account of PEARC20’s student program, read Ana’s blog on the STEM-Trek website. 

PEARC20 Student Organizer Alexa Salsbury (Virginia Tech, right), when interviewed by Science Node, recognized that the virtual format may appeal to a broader range of personalities. She explained that most who attend PEARC have some computational skills, but the virtual format is especially comfortable for the more introverted conference-goers who may find that engaging others via instant message is easier than approaching them in person. PEARC uses a wide range of communication tools, including the toolkit within the conference platform, back-channel Slack, and Discord. 

Watch this page for updates as they are announced, including the student program call for participation and submission deadlines.

Student Program Leadership

Co-Chair: Elizabeth Leake
University of Iowa

Co-Chair: Alana Romanella
Virginia Tech


If you have questions, or require more information, please contact: