OLCF’s Ashley Barker Takes on New Role, Steps Down from ECP

The Operations Section head will wind down her ECP duties to work on the OLCF’s next supercomputer

 By Coury Turczyn

Ashley Barker is assuming new duties at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and leaving her role as head of Training & Productivity for ECP. Image Credit: Dobie Gillispie, ORNL

Ashley Barker, Operations Section head for the National Center for Computational Sciences (NCCS), is taking on a new role in the procurement and deployment of the next supercomputer system at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), a US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science user facility located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

As Barker assumes her new duties, she will be stepping down from her position as head of Training & Productivity (T&P) for DOE’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP). Osni Marques, a staff scientist in the Applied Math and Computational Research Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will take over T&P.

“I am thankful I had the opportunity to work on this project that will have a lasting impact on shaping exascale computing. I had the pleasure of working with a talented staff from across the DOE complex, both inside T&P and across the project. I look forward to starting new collaborations with this great group of people in the coming years,” Barker said.

Since its formation in 2016, the ECP’s mission has been to prepare software to run on DOE’s upcoming exascale supercomputers. Barker joined early on to help train ECP personnel to write applications and tools for these machines—long before any of the system hardware was selected.

“For the first 2 years of the project, and while the final details of the exascale systems were still being worked on, we placed a strong emphasis on software productivity training because the major outcome of ECP is software,” Barker said. “Most ECP teams are developing applications, tools, or other software to run on these exascale systems. We recognized early on that anything we could do to improve our teams’ development skills could have a large impact on the success of the project.”

Seeing the need for coordinating training events between ECP facilities, Barker also helped form the ECP’s Training Advisory Group (TAG). The TAG meets each month to discuss training plans at each of the facilities and inside ECP; if there is interest and benefit, the members initiate jointly sponsored events—from hackathons to tutorials.

“We had always talked inside the facilities about wanting to work together on more training events. ECP helped to formalize our process. Because the facilities often use similar codes and tools, we can get more bang with our buck if we work together to deliver training,” Barker said.

Of course, in addition to her new responsibilities in procuring the OLCF’s next system, Barker also runs the Operations Section at NCCS, which provides technical support, training, documentation, and tools to NCCS users.

“Operations is here to ensure that the systems, support, documentation, the training—whatever it may be—are the best that they can be for the users of our facility,” Barker said. “We have four complementary groups inside the section, and they each have a different focus, but at the end of the day, the groups work together to ensure users have what they need at the OLCF to effectively accomplish their research goals.”



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