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CCR staffer lands coveted spot at supercomputing conference

By CORY NEALON

Published August 22, 2017

“I’ve attended the conference in the past, but didn’t fully appreciate the amount of work involved with designing, creating and managing the massive network.”
Dori Sajdak, senior systems administrator
Center for Computational Research

Wi-Fi suffices at most professional conferences.

But not at the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis.

The conference, known simply as Supercomputing or SC, attracts 12,000 attendees — many of whom are supercomputing experts or companies that demo their research and products. Hence, the conference requires a very powerful and secure network.

Dori Sajdak, senior systems administrator at UB’s Center for Computational Research, is helping to build that network.

“It’s really been an eye-opening experience,” says Sajdak, one of six women chosen to participate in the Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) program, created in 2015 to address the gender gap in information technology fields. “I’ve attended the conference in the past, but didn’t fully appreciate the amount of work involved with designing, creating and managing the massive network. These volunteers spend all year preparing for a one-week conference.”

The WINS program, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Energy Science Network, includes the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research, and University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

For each of the past three years, the program has enabled five early- to mid-career women from across the U.S. research and education communities in information technology to help build the network, dubbed SCinet, an effort that ultimately involves hundreds of people.

Sajdak, an UB alumnae (BA ’95) who previously worked in the Department of Geography’s Geographic Information and Analysis Laboratory, is volunteering on SCinet’s development and operations team (DevOps). Since she was notified of her selection in May, she has been collaborating with colleagues on the DevOps team while they work remotely to set up servers, accounts and databases in preparation for the conference.

The program, she says, enables her to experiment with cutting-edge network hardware and software, and work with some of the world’s leading network and software engineers.

“The Women in IT Networking at SC program is a very competitive program, and Dori’s selection from many candidates who applied is a strong indication of her ability and standing in the high-performance computing community,” says Thomas Furlani, CCR director. “In addition to helping advance Dori’s career, the skills Dori learns working on SCinet will be extremely beneficial to the Center for Computational Research in supporting the research activities of UB’s faculty and staff.”

Sajdak will continue to volunteer into the fall. The conference, co-sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society, runs Nov. 12-17 in Denver, Colorado.

Sajdak will arrive a week before to ensure the network is up and ready to go.