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An International Student Volunteer from Brazil Grows from Mentoring at SC


First-time international student volunteer traces his road to SC19 in Denver

For Gabriel Freguglia Barros, a doctoral student at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro/UFRJ), word-of-mouth provided his introduction to the annual SC conference, as he learned about it from his lab colleagues who had previously participated. As a first-time applicant, he felt honored by the opportunity, and especially enjoyed the full travel support that made his experience financially viable.


Obtaining a Visa

As an international volunteer, Barros needed to obtain a visa to attend SC. While it could have been daunting, he found the process was easy.

“Fui até o consulado com uma carta escrita por Michela Taufer (Representante Geral do SC19), portanto não tive problemas,”

“I went to the embassy with a letter from Michela Taufer (SC19 General Chair), so I had no issues,” Barros noted.

“Apenas me fizeram algumas perguntas sobre o congresso.”

“They asked me a few questions about the conference and that was it.”

Managing His Schedule

In his first foray to the noted HPC conference, Barros volunteered a total of 14 hours over the course of five days.

“Eu não soube administrar minha agenda de início,”

“I didn’t know how to manage my schedule,” he admitted.

“Fiquei preocupado em perder alguns dos workshops dos quais eu queria participar. Porém dei sorte pois minha agenda não interferiu no que eu gostaria de presenciar no congresso e fui capaz de participar de tudo aquilo que eu gostaria.”

“I was afraid that I would miss out on some workshops and such. I was lucky, because my schedule didn’t interfere with what I wanted to see, and I was able to see everything I wanted to see.”

Barros found all the events to be equally interesting, though he especially liked the elevator speech training.

“Eu realmente nunca havia pensado nisto”

“I had never thought about this,” he said.

“Foi muito esclarecedor, existem técnicas científicas para um bom discurso. Eventualmente não coloquei o aprendizado em prática. Como um aluno de doutorado de primeiro ano, eu não me senti preparado para participar ativamente da feira de empregos. De qualquer forma, achei ótimo aprender sobre e definitivamente vou melhorar meu discurso à medida que for progredindo no doutorado.”

“It was enlightening. There is an actual science to this. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to practice. As a first year Ph.D. student, I didn’t feel I was ready for the job fair. This is good for me to know, though, and I will be able to make my speech evolve with my progress.”

Among the many benefits of being an SC student volunteer, Barros was able to see how the job fair worked during one of his assigned shifts. Now, he knows what to expect. Barros also said the mentor/protege breakfast and mixer afforded him the opportunity to meet more experienced people and “ampliou seus horizontes” (broadened his horizons).


Networking Opportunities

Barros was privileged to meet an entrepreneur from Uruguay, who, unlike himself, was not an academic, yet they shared similar areas of interest.

“Eu estou na comunidade acadêmica. Faço pesquisa para desenvolver teorias e códigos. Acabo trabalhando na engenharia de uma forma mais abstrata.”

“I am in academia. I do research in order to develop theories and programs. I am more of an abstract engineer,” he explained.

“Ele vem de uma empresa privada que precisa de engenharia mais concreta. Ele deve resolver problemas com fatores financeiros em mente. Minha abordagem não era economicamente viável para ele. Foi muito interessante ver seu ponto de vista.”

“He comes from the private industry that necessitates more concrete engineering. He must solve problems keeping economical factors in mind. My approach isn’t economically viable for him. It was very interesting to see his point of view.”

“O SC une a comunidade científica com empresas privadas.”

“SC brings academia together with private companies,” Barros continued.

“Nós [acadêmicos] muitas vezes somos teóricos e ele [empresário] é prático. As conversas são diferentes e difíceis de serem conectadas. Tudo que eu tinha por certeza do meu campo ganhou novas variáveis. Percebi que existe um grande espectro de pontos de vista sob o mesmo campo. Essa conversa abriu novas portas na forma de ver o meu trabalho – não a pesquisa em si – mas tendo em mente como as pessoas usarão o que eu faço.

“We [academics] are theoretical, and he [industry] is practical. The conversations are very different and hard to bridge. Everything that I was convinced of within my research, now gained a few variables. I realized that there is a large spectrum within the same field. This conversation opened new doors in the way I work – not on the research itself – but keeping in mind how people will use what I do.”


Impressions of Sessions

Barros said he particularly enjoyed two presentations. One by Katie Bouman impressed him because she is a young researcher, which “traz esperança e inspiração aos pesquisadores jovens” (gave him a lot of hope). The other presenter was Karen Willcox, director of the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. Willcox’s SC19 presentation was an eye-opener for Barros.

“Eu trabalho no mesmo tópico que ela lidera e eu cito ela bastante nos meus trabalhos.”

“She works on the same subject that I work on, and I mention her a lot in my work,” he enthused.

“Sua apresentação foi tão boa que todos se aproximaram ao final, e, infelizmente, não pude conhecê-la. Eu gostaria de ter visto essa apresentação antes do mixer. Eu teria a oportunidade de ilustrar melhor meu assunto de pesquisa com o empresário uruguaio , utilizando exemplos concretos.”

“Her presentation was so good that she had a swarm of people around her, and, unfortunately, I couldn’t meet her. I wish I had seen it before the mixer. I would have had the opportunity to have a better conversation with the man from Uruguay. I would have had concrete examples to speak to him about.”

Student Growth at SC

Although he felt “a bit shy to apply as a student lead,” Barros wants to be part of SC20. After the SC19 experience, he is applying to SC20 as a lead student volunteer. Barros would be following a path traveled by many of his counterparts. For example, Karlyn Harrod, a doctorate candidate with University of Notre Dame’s Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics, noted her own SC journey started with taking the leap and applying to be a student volunteer.

“I was a first-time regular student volunteer in SC18, a first-time lead student volunteer at SC19, and am now a first-time committee member for SC20 (Co-Chair for Lead Student Volunteers),” she said. “I think that my experience is the perfect example of the fact that there are no requirements needed to apply for lead student volunteer positions. There are differences in the responsibilities of a lead student volunteer and a regular student volunteer, but the ability to perform the responsibilities of a lead student volunteer are not dependent on having multiple years’ experience as a regular student volunteer.

“I was fully able to perform all of my responsibilities while only having one year of previous experience as a regular student volunteer,” Harrod continued. “Additionally, if a student is applying for a lead student volunteer position, then they are really applying for a student leadership role. So, having the ability to express their drive and passion for such a role would be beneficial.”

Barros and Harrod are among the many student volunteers who grow with the SC Conference, assuring new energy and innovation with each passing year.

Learn more about becoming SC20’s “Generation Next”!

Christine Baissac-Hayden
SC20 Students@SC Communications Liaison (Easy English 4 All)

Christine Baissac-Hayden created Easy English 4 All, which provides multilingual communication tools for clients from diverse backgrounds in the renewable energy, medical, defense, marine science, and film industries. Easy English 4 All provides English as a Second Language (ESL), French, Spanish and Japanese tutoring from certified native-speaking teachers and organizes international student exchanges with personalized objectives and goals.

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