Christine Harvey | Principal HPC and Analytic Computing Architect
The MITRE Corporation
Teleworker in Nebraska, U.S.
Department: Enterprise Technical Computing
Education: B.S. Computational Science, Stockton University, M.S. Computational Science, Stockton University, Ph.D. Computational Science and Informatics, George Mason University
Career stage: Mid
What do you do?
As the Service Manager for High Performance Computing (HPC) at MITRE, a collection of Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, there is no such thing as a typical day! I have a lot of meetings that range from project management of our HPC systems, to supporting our interns, to troubleshooting complex parallel codes.
What types of skills do you use?
At this point in my career, I don’t use quite as many technical skills, but I still do quite a bit of data analysis, processing, and creating visualizations. I also provide troubleshooting and debugging support to many of our more advanced and technical HPC users. When troubleshooting, I leverage my background in advanced computing and computational science, but there is also a considerable amount of general problem solving involved. As for non-technical skills, I spend a lot of time organizing content, communicating critical information, and figuring out ways to best educate our users and staff.
How are applied mathematics and/or computational science important to what you do?
All the math and computational science I learned in school is the foundation of how I spend my days. Math and computational science got me into modeling and simulation, which is how I learned more about parallel computing and eventually got into systems management. I use computational science skills especially when I’m troubleshooting complex problems and working with users to understand some of the hundreds of applications that run on our systems.
What are the pros and/or cons of your profession/job?
Every day is different, and I get to spend a lot of time with incredibly intelligent people solving some of the world’s toughest problems! That’s really exciting, and I like being able to jump in on projects when a team is having trouble and keep them on track or help them optimize their code to get more results faster. The major cons would be that there are just too many interesting things, and I have trouble saying no to tasks, which leads to a lot of work.
Does your job offer flexibility?
MITRE, and my job in particular, is very flexible. We generally keep flexible work hours and I have a lot of control over which tasks I take on and how I work.
What career path did you take to your current position?
I started out in modeling and simulation at MITRE and found that I spent most of my time as the team member running other people’s code on the supercomputer. When a job opened in the division running the computer, I applied and got the role! I’ve been in this position for the past six years and I love the access I now have to all sorts of research.
Was your career path well planned or a result of taking opportunities as they arose?
Taking opportunities as they arose.
What advice would you give to someone pursuing a similar degree or profession?
Seek opportunities and promote yourself. Apply for jobs, internships, scholarships, conference travel grants —everything! And put time into your applications. Well written applications can speak louder than your grades or your background.
Was there anything that surprised you when you started out in your career?
Much of a professional career involves working on projects with groups of people that have different skills, schedules, and even levels of dedication and urgency.
Has SIAM played a role in helping you build your career?
Reading SIAM books, attending SIAM Conferences, and even the SIAM Job Board has helped me in my career— the exposure and awareness to the types of jobs and research opportunities has been very valuable!
Depending on the size of HPC service you run, type of organization, and the number of people you support, the salary can have a wide range. I would say anywhere from $120K –$400K at a larger center.
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