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Scientific supercomputing: Teaching practical skills for credit

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posted on 10.03.2020, 03:52 by Joseph Lane
While theoretical modelling and simulation are increasingly used in research, postgraduate students are typically expected to learn these skills outside of the formal credit-bearing papers that make up their degrees.

The University of Waikato recently undertook a complete redesign of its postgraduate Science qualifications, including the redevelopment of all of the underlying papers. As part of the review process, focus groups were held with both current and former postgraduate students. One of the key themes that emerged through these focus groups was a desire to “learn through doing”, with more focus on skills development rather than fact recollection. In response to that feedback, a new postgraduate paper, SCIEN511 – Scientific Supercomputing, was established, which provides a practical introduction to undertaking scientific research on a supercomputer. The paper assumes no prior computational experience and is intended for science students from a broad range of disciplines.

In this presentation, I will outline my experience in developing and teaching SCIEN511 – Scientific Supercomputing, reflecting on the successes and challenges of running the paper for the first time. A close collaboration with the NeSI team ensured a great outcome for the enrolled students.

Associate Professor Jo Lane is a computational chemist at the University of Waikato and is currently Deputy Dean for the School of Science. Jo obtained his BSc(Hons) and PhD from the University of Otago.


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