A Day at Our Dynamic Earth

Author: Alistair Grant
Posted: 5 Oct 2013 | 12:01

Image of Audience Group at ODE

In September, Our Dynamic Earth held a two-day event called 'Meet the Experts' for groups of secondary school pupils. EPCC was invited to attend, with Iain Bethune and myself volunteering to give short talks on what supercomputing is and why it is needed. 

Each session consisted of two talks, with EPCC's presentation grouped with physicists and cell biologists. Although Iain and I used the same set of slides, we each gave our own interpretation of the talk, which allowed our different experiences to be conveyed to the audiences. Feedback from the event indicates that the talks went down well with the groups, although this was not always easy to tell at the time. The school students were split into groups of approximately 20-25 students, making it a managable number to interact with in the short talk sessions.

For those attending the events it was an opportunity not only to hear about what work and research is being done, but a chance to ask the 'expert' about almost anything they could think of. Questions included:

  • What do you have to study to work in your field? (Maths, science and technology subjects.)
  • Do you enjoy your work? (Yes, save for when paperwork gets in the way.)
  • How much does a supercomputer cost? (A lot. Archer is costing over its lifetime somewhere in the region of £40million.)
  • Can you play games on a supercomputer? (I think a lot of people would frown upon this.)
  • Will machines take over and rule us all? (Probably not in our lifetimes, and they're more likely just to ignore us than take over.)

The questions from the groups varied greatly, but the enthusiasm shown by the audience members was encouraging for the future.

We would like to thank Christine Angus and Tiffany Gillies for inviting us along to the event and for organising it all.