Soccer mom, PFLOPS architect

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Short profile this week at on IBM’s Catherine Crawford, the MIT and Princeton grad who led IBM’s RoadRunner and who’s been named in the 2010 Women to Watch:

Catherine Crawford“A few things came together. I had an opportunity in the systems and technology group on a project to build a petaflop computer for Los Alamos National Lab. My third child was on the way, and at the same time my mother became ill. IBM made it possible for me to take the assignment, work from home, and help take care of my mother. My husband could become a stay-at-home dad.”

Roadrunner was based on standard hardware, 6,500 Advanced Micro Devices Opteron processors and the IBM Cell Broadband engine. “We decided we would make the project focused on software, mostly systems and application runtime software.”

“I helped to build the first petaflop computer, and people think that’s amazing. But I don’t want people to judge me on that. I know my greatest accomplishment at the end of the day is that I have my three children and my husband. You can do incredible things in technology but I always have to keep that balanced with my family life.”

Fantastic, and much more helpful (I think) because its more real world than Computer Engineer Barbie, even though she’s great too. Inspiring for me too; even though I’m a dude, I’m (more importantly) an involved dad. One of those things you need to read and pass around.


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  1. Christine says

    I appreciate you bringing great role models to my attention. As a female researcher in the early stages of my career at the intersection of hard science and HPC, it’s especially valuable.

  2. John West says

    Christine – that’s exactly the kind of response that keeps me going. Glad to know you appreciate the post! Thanks.