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Firms Face Geek Gap

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. -- The private sector is struggling to bridge a supercomputing skills gap, according to attendees at the High Performance Computing User Forum taking place this week at Oak Ridge National Lab.

The engineers and scientists who are talented in the field of supercomputing are more interested in making a mark than earning big bucks. Hence, enterprises are losing the best talent to academia and research, prompting concern from execs at the Tennessee event.

It makes it harder to compete,” admits a high performance specialist from a government contracting firm, who asked not to be named. “If you’re not fast enough, you don’t get the business.”

The skills shortfall can pose other problems, according to the exec. “If you lose key people and you can’t rapidly re-staff, you could run into [government contract] penalties for delays.”

Competition for the best supercomputing brains is particularly intense in the United States, which is home to a myriad of big-name research labs. As well as Oak Ridge and Los Alamos National Lab, other high profile sites include Sandia National Labs and the Lawrence Livermore National Lab.

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