“TACC was open to let me participate and pitch in with my own specialized skills and ideas” – An interview with Ariel Guerreiro

Read all about the exciting time Ariel Guerreiro had at Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) and how he expects to leverage on this experience moving forward.

Three months flew by to Ariel Guerreiro, who was at TACC learning about Machine Learning, High Performance Computing and Visualization, between February and May 2019. For the Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Sciences of University of Porto (FCUP), the Advanced Computing Training Program, offered by the UT Austin Portugal Program, posed as a one-time opportunity to expand his academic and research activities, as well as develop his skills in Science and Technology.

Ariel Guerreiro began his career as a Research Fellow at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and, in 2007 joined INESC TEC as a senior researcher, where he has been working in the development of advanced simulation tools in the field of optical sensing, quantum physics and quantum information, as well as, the modeling of multiagent systems and applications to economics. Currently, he researches complex quantum systems and their applications to quantum simulations and quantum information processing, as well as carrying out his faculty duties at FCUP. Ariel has a Ph.D. in Physical Engineering from Instituto Superior Técnico and a Master’s Degree in Business and Administration from Porto Business School.

In June 2019, Ariel Guerreiro hosted the Immersive Training Program at FCUP, a four-day immersive training experience, provided by TACC and organized by the UT Austin Portugal Program, for the Portuguese scientific community. It was his time at Austin and the networking opportunities that arose that enabled this very successful cross-training experience. See here a short interview carried out within the scope of the event.

We took the opportunity to talk to Ariel about these recent months.

– What motivated you to apply for the Advanced Computing Training Program?

There were two main reasons for me to apply to the ACTP. The first was of a more personal nature and concerns a habit of mine which is to invest on my skills every three years, not only as a personal challenge but also to keep me learning new things. In this case, it provided me with the opportunity to learn more about high performance computing and large scale computing facilities. I must confess that the opportunity to have an immersive experience in the American culture also attracted me. A second motivation concerned the fact that I have been working with scientific computing over many years now, writing my own codes, and I and my research team reached a point where we needed to scale up our simulations, get more resolution and study bigger systems. TACC provided the know-how and the necessary facilities. Also, the prospect of collaborating with a world-renowned team was very appealing.

– Tell us more about the research work you conducted while at TACC and the research team you worked with.

Well, as I have mentioned, some of my motivations were to bring new skill to my team and even teach back home what I have learned, so I asked for a somewhat eclectic work plan. It covered machine learning, high performance computation, and a bit of visualization. So, I moved around. Also, I have found the working atmosphere there to be very productive and stimulating – not only did they gave me the benefit of their experience, but they were also open to let me participate and pitch in with my own specialized skills and ideas. It is important for you to feel you can also contribute. At the end, I have not only had a positive and productive experience, but I have also brought home collaborations and new friendships.

– Participating in this training program was important to your current research. And how do you think it will impact your work moving forward?

Off course. It brought new skills and collaborations. From this experience followed new projects, new ideas and new solutions for existing problems. My work has been focused on quantum information technologies, in particular the study of comply many-body quantum systems, often with exotic forms of nonlinear phenomena. Simulations are instrumental, so being able to ambition larger and more in depth computer models is important to me.

Austin, Texas

– How would you describe the experience of living and working at Austin?

In general, either in work or out of work, Austin provides you with an excellent experience, with good conditions and opportunities. There is also a rich cultural atmosphere and people are friendly and polite. For those nature fans out there, Austin and Texas do not disappoint, and you can become overwhelmed by the scenery when you least expect. The Austinites take pride in their music, beef, texmex and beer, with good reasons.The real problem with Austin is the weather but get a nice hat and just do what the locals do and you will be safe.

– What would you say to future participants of the Advanced Computing Training Program?

What can I say!? Can I go back for more? My advice is the following: go for the good reputation, enjoy the experience, get to know the people, learn all you can learn, leave with new friends. Also, don’t forget to keep hydrated!

– What are your expectations for the future?

Really, I would not mind going back to Austin on a regular basis.Having confessed that, my expectations are now tied with the realization of a most wished promise of having a renewed supercomputing infrastructure here in Portugal, that allows us to do some of the things that are possible at Texas but now closer to home. Clearly what I have learned from my experience at Austin will be instrumental in such an endeavor.