William started his career in software development, developing and maintaining both back end and front end applications at iiNet. His first exposure to the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre came soon after, when he became a computer science student at Murdoch University. The USA-based Student Cluster Competition is designed to introduce the next generation of students to the HPC community, and Pawsey took the first Australian student team, including William, to the competition.
William demonstrated outstanding skills as part of that groundbreaking team, and was favourably remembered when he applied for a position at the Centre in 2016. He is now a system administrator within the supercomputing team.
“I joined Pawsey as I wanted to try something new,” William elaborated. “I’d had plenty of experience working with hardware, but not in a professional capacity, and not at the scale we have here at Pawsey.” His role involves close communication with a number of other teams at Pawsey, as many of the systems are interconnected and rely on one another. Working on the supercomputing user portal means he also acts on experience other Pawsey teams have gained regarding user interaction and management. William also works directly with research groups, and investigates any problems they experience using Pawsey systems, “to better the way Pawsey can do things. It’s all about working together to achieve our common goals”.
William successfully co-developed and released a user and project management web application – Origin – and has worked on the Puppet project to evolve the way systems and services are managed at Pawsey. “I don’t have a ‘normal’ working day,” admitted William. “Most days start with checking the status of our systems and services. If there are no major issues then it’s usually onto project work that can involve research, documentation, configuration and programming, or any number of physical tasks on the systems themselves.”
“It’s really fulfilling to see the amazing research projects that are facilitated by the resources and services that the Centre provides. A lot of the mathematics and computational work behind the research projects is over my head, but it’s great that we hold ‘Pawsey Fridays’, where we can hear firsthand from the researchers themselves what is being achieved.”
“Researchers just want to focus on their particular domains, so with respect to HPC, they’ll usually take the path of least resistance to get their work done. With the current upsurge in cloud computing services as their cost and ease of use make them increasingly viable options, we need to learn from these companies and continue to make our HPC facilities more accessible. I want Pawsey to be an innovator in the way our systems are run and how we support our users.”