Planning each SC conference is a three-year journey. By the time we are in the final year of planning, the shape of the conference is well-determined, as are the known unknowns. The events of 2020 have upended all of that, and have made for the most challenging final year for any SC planning committee yet.
The vast majority of the more than 700 people on the SC planning committee are volunteers from the HPC community. All of us share your concerns regarding the challenges of remaining healthy and safe while continuing with our daily routines. Many of us are also subject to institutional and governmental travel guidance and restrictions — as are our attendees and participants — and much like everything else today, they change frequently.
Over my twenty years of involvement on the SC committee many of our team members have become lifelong friends and family to me; I hold their safety, and yours, as the utmost concern for the conference.
Still, there is the business of ensuring the HPC community can continue to exchange ideas and achievements on a broad scale in a normal rhythm. The SC20 committee began planning for both in-person and virtual attendance — a first for SC — within a month of the United States COVID-related shutdowns. We are fortunate in that we have a longer runway with which to plan than did most conferences this spring and summer. That allows us to not only draw from lessons learned across a wide range of experiences in many fields, but also to carefully plan for the most robust conference experience possible for our participants and attendees.
In a normal year, the most-often heard characterization of our conference is that there is too much content from which to choose. It’s a good problem to have, and we’re working to provide abundant content again this year.
We recently held the first ever completely virtual SC paper review meeting, and it was a tremendous success due to the planning of many, most of all that of our Technical Papers Chair Franck Cappello and Co-Chair Rudolf Eigenmann. The SC20 committee is continually finding ways to accomplish the usual planning tasks from all corners of the earth. The events of this year have us re-examining nearly every aspect of the conference, and while we can and are addressing some of those this year, others require steady, longer-term approaches from the SC conference series, the SC Steering Committee and the HPC community as a whole.
Every day brings new information that more sharply hones the shape of SC20 and the conferences that follow. Every day there are more decisions to be made with that brand new information. We know that this ever-changing professional and personal environment is the case for many of you and your employers, and as such we have made adjustments in numerous areas of the SC20 experience:
- We will open registration for the conference on August 14, 2020.
- We are working with our exhibitors, attendees, and content authors to provide as much flexibility as possible for in-person and virtual attendance and participation.
- We will provide flexible cancellation and rebate policies where possible.
More information regarding all of that, and the SC20 program itself, will come in the next several weeks. Please continue to check the SC20 website’s Coronavirus & SC page for conference status.
SC20 won’t be the same as SC conferences of the past. But it will be an event that brings the HPC community together to further our field, our connections to each other and the world around us, and our desire to be more than HPC.
Christine E. Cuicchi
SC20 General Chair