High Performance Computing (HPC) lab

Over the summer, Pomona College’s In the Know Lab (ITKL), one of the Claremont Colleges’ most innovative learning spaces, doubled in size. Originally conceived as a space to train High Performance Computing (HPC) student employees, Asya Shklyar, ITS’ Director of HPC, strives to make ITLK a safe space for students of all backgrounds and technical starting places.

A bit maker space, a bit classroom, ITKL employs more than 20 students and is home to a wide range of devices and equipment that facilitate creative student and faculty-led research. Students in the lab develop their technical skills and literacy through hands-on learning, gaining a backend understanding of how technology works.

Some of the recent projects taking place at the lab include:

  • The de-stigmatization of smart-home technologies through a student-led hacking of major devices including Alexa, Google Home, Siri, and Cortana.
  • A miniature simulation of ITS’s own data center on four Raspberry Pi computers, which are credit-card sized and have the full functionality of a desktop computer. This project, now on display on the lab, allowed students to explore how data centers are constructed, creating a viable test model with which they may try new things before scaling them up to actual data centers.
  • The use of indoor and outdoor drones to investigate the physics and math underlying drone operation and develop skills in Python and machine learning. Through this project, students learned to “swarm” drone or program them to work together as one unit. The indoor, Tello drones are accessible to a wide variety of skill levels; they are easily programmable in languages like Python, Scratch, and Swift, but flight patterns can also be built using physical floor mats read by the drones making them suitable for many projects.
  • Student ambassadors created a virtual reality space in the lab and are currently working on a new, updated version. Virtual reality (VR) experiences have been a cornerstone of the lab since its inception, and the lab now has several VR headsets, including the Oculus Rift, the Oculus Go, the HTC Vive Pro, and Google carboard headsets that allow for immersive VR experiences via your smartphone. For those interested in creating their own virtual spaces, the ITKL also has 180- and 360-degree cameras for capturing physical spaces for translation to VR. For a curated list of available VR content explorable in the lab (and ITKL’s review of this content) organized by academic discipline please visit the VR Content Available page.

While these projects help to demonstrate some of the ITKL offerings, a complete list of the equipment available for use in the space as well as some of the student led projects can be found on the High-Performance Computing website. Some of the additional technologies include several kinds of 3D printers and even a handheld 3D printer pen!

The ITKL is intended to sponsor creativity and discovery for anyone interested in using its features. The lab is not only open to 7C students, faculty, and staff, but family, friends, and community members as well. ITKL is currently funded through a combination of grants, but Shkylar is always looking for potential projects or partnerships that could help sponsor the lab,

If you are interested in booking the lab, would like a tour, or have a great idea for a project ITKL could help sponsor, we want to hear from you! Please reach out at its-itkl@pomona.edu.