January 28, 2019

Could you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Andrea Romani, I am a 24 year old Italian masters student in Computational Science and Engineering at EPFL and the Politecnico di Milano.

What fascinates you in the world of supercomputing?

I think supercomputing gives us a great opportunity to solve real life and difficult problems in an efficient way which may not be tackled otherwise. Simulations of physical processes are becoming more and more popular and, with the increasing power of supercomputers, you can go in outstanding detail. However, understanding how to manage such a tool and developing optimized software for it is not trivial at all. This is the hardest and most motivating challenge in my opinion.

How did you first hear about CSCS?

During my first semester of studies at EPFL, I received a mail from the person responsible for the internship programs, professor Simone Deparis, informing us of the possibility of doing the intern at CSCS.

When and for which intern position did you apply?

I applied a few days after receiving the mail, in November 2017 for the internship position “Porting ICON atmospheric dynamics solver components using GridTools” under the supervision of Mauro Bianco and I started working in mid-September 2018.

Why did you want to intern at CSCS?

Looking at the proposed internships I saw a good match between the projects developed at CSCS and what I was studying. Moreover, talking with other students who had interned at CSCS, they all agreed that it was a great experience.

What project did you work on during your internship?

My project involved rewriting some of the components of a global circulation model using the GridTools library developed here at CSCS. Additionally, I analyzed the performance of my code compared to other implementations. These models are used quite a lot in the scientific community, in particular in the atmospheric simulations for weather forecasting for instance. My tasks were also useful to help understand if porting of the whole model was feasible, and if competitive results in terms of computational time were achievable.

How would you describe a regular day as an intern?

My typical working day started around 8:30 am and finished somewhere between 4 and 6 pm, thanks to the possibility of flexible working hours. I spent most of my time among terminals and text editors, trying to get my code running and fixing the various bugs I was introducing, discussing with my supervisors and providing feedback on the results I was getting. The lunch break and a couple of small breaks during the day were good opportunities to spend some time with colleagues – and enjoying meals outdoors in sunny Lugano.

How do you like to work in Lugano?

Commuting every day from my home in Varese to CSCS I didn’t have the opportunity to fully experience life in Lugano. However, I found Lugano a city with a good compromise between facilities and calm: it is not a huge and crowded town, but you can find whatever you need there. Moreover, the workplace is great, people are very kind, funny and always willing to help.

What will you take home from this experience?

This has been my first experience of the working world and the realities of everyday life – and I definitely feel more prepared now for future challenges. I’ll remember my time at CSCS fondly – both for the kindness of the people working here and for the fact that my work and my code will be useful for my colleagues and other researchers!