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IU senior helps researchers harness power of university’s supercomputers

Mar. 2, 2016

In the fast-paced world of research and technology, senior Scott McClary is helping IU researchers go even faster.

In his part-time job with UITS Research Technologies, McClary consults with IU faculty, staff and student researchers looking to harness the power of the university's supercomputers.

One of his first clients was a team of chemistry researchers in the Martin F. Jarrold research group, which studies biological mass spectrometry. 

The researchers run their experiments on their own computers and then send their application to McClary. He installs the application on one of IU's three supercomputers and does a performance analysis and scalability study to optimize the overall research efficiency.

"After I make performance improvements, I must ensure the application is still producing accurate and reliable results," said McClary, a senior computer science student in the IU School of Informatics and Computing. "Then, I teach the researchers how to run their application on the supercomputer as part of their everyday workflow."

He likens the optimization process to getting fitted for a custom pair of shoes.

"Anyone can put on a size 20 shoe," he said. "But you go into a shoe store to find the perfect size shoe for your foot so you can run at your peak athletic ability."

McClary, a Bloomington resident, said he came to IU because of the university's strong reputation in computer science. And he plans to stay for graduate school because of the computer science department's accelerated master's program and the great on-the-job training he is getting at UITS.

He said he doesn't know what company he'll work for after graduation -- the possibilities are vast -- but he does know that the skills he has gained working in high-performance computing will be in high demand, thanks to his education and experience at IU.

McClary's work aligns with several priorities in the university's Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including a commitment to student success, catalyzing research and a vibrant community of scholars.

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