Manos Farsarakis graduated with a masters in High Performance Computing in 2014, and now works as an Applications Consultant at EPCC, the University’s centre for supercomputers. He explains how he juggles this with his additional role within the Staff Pride Network.
Born and raised in the south of Greece, Manos completed a BSc in Physics at the University of Crete. During his studies, he was also a teacher in his spare time, something that led to an unplanned career in private education.
Despite enjoying teaching, Manos felt that his own education wasn’t complete; so he made the decision to move to Edinburgh where he studied for his MSc in High Performance Computing at EPCC, the University of Edinburgh’s renowned centre for supercomputing research. Manos has good memories of his time as an Edinburgh student:
I would say the most memorable moment of my studies at the University of Edinburgh was when my team won the Student Cluster Competition at the 2014 International Supercomputing Conference in Germany, breaking the world record for the fastest low-energy cluster at the competition.
After his studies at EPCC, Manos stayed on as an Applications Developer, and later progressed to Applications Consultant, the role he holds today. He relishes the variety his work now brings:
It is a very rewarding experience overall. With my work at the University of Edinburgh, I can continue to enjoy my love of teaching but on a greater and more varied scale. I teach Software and Data Carpentry workshops around the UK as part of the ARCHER supercomputing service, I participate in training for the MSc in High Performance Computing, and I am currently very excited about the launch of our upcoming MOOC on Supercomputing.
His work at EPCC also allows him to keep active in his field, collaborating with colleagues and other institutions on projects such as the Intel Parallel Computing Centre – a sponsored lab that focuses on modernising apps – and NEXTGenIO, a funded project looking at finding solutions for challenges within high performance computing. This allows Manos to work with universities and industrial partners from around the world, looking at cutting-edge and future technologies in this field.
But Manos feels that the public shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by supercomputers and their capacity:
Most people think supercomputers are alien, ultra-high-tech machines. To a certain extent, this is true – they are undeniably high-tech – but in actual fact, they are mostly made of components very similar to those found in a modern laptop or desktop computer. The difference is that there are very many more of them working together to solve much bigger problems.
Beyond the world of high performance computing, Manos has recently taken on the voluntary role of Communications and Media Officer for the University’s Staff Pride Network, which exists to support LGBT+ staff and allies. He has found this extremely rewarding:
It has been interesting, fun and educational for me to interact with so many wonderfully different people. Coming from Greece, where the professional work reality is quite different, I have been inspired by the warmth with which the University has embraced the network and supported the incredible members in their efforts to organise events and engage with the community.
An area Manos has been particularly proud to work on is the University’s activities during LGBT+ History Month in February 2017:
The University worked with the network and its student counterpart, BLOGS, to organise a huge array of events. There were events going on from discussion panels and pub quizzes, to open mic nights and LGBT+ related movie screenings. There are still some scheduled for the last week of February and I would encourage alumni in Edinburgh to join us and show support.