Messages from the Ken Kennedy Institute Leadership

Message from the Ken Kennedy Institute Director

The Ken Kennedy Institute at Rice University is pleased to offer the 13th annual Rice Oil and Gas High Performance Computing Conference. We hope that you will thoroughly enjoy the conference and use the networking sessions to initiate collaborations and promote technological innovation that will address the computing demands in the energy industry in our city, regionally and nationally.

Many people have worked very hard to bring this conference to you and are recognized in this brochure. From the Ken Kennedy Institute, Dr. Jan Odegard, who is moving on to ION, has been the driving force behind this conference. We deeply thank him for his initiative, enthusiasm, dedication and tireless efforts to make this conference a success, and we look forward to working with him in the future for the continued success of this conference.

Lydia E. Kavraki

Director, Ken Kennedy Institute


Welcome to the 13th annual Oil and Gas High Performance Computing Conference at Rice University. It may seem a bit eccentric to reflect on our history at the 13-year mark, but there is a rationale for my eccentricity. As many of you may have heard, I am moving to a new role with The Ion in Houston. After 18 years as Executive Director of the Ken Kennedy Institute, it was time for a change. In fact, 2019 was a year of change. We now have an entirely new institute staff. Victoria Langlais and Debbie Heath moved on to new positions at Rice, and in September, Lydia Kavraki was appointed as the fifth faculty Director of the Ken Kennedy Institute, taking over from Moshe Vardi after 19 years. I am grateful to Michelle Atkinson and Meredith Westover for joining the Ken Kennedy Institute and carrying on the good work of their predecessors.

My 18 years with the Ken Kennedy Institute have been a wonderful journey. Perhaps I am proudest of having helped launch and co-organize the Oil & Gas HPC Conference. How strange it is to write this final message after 13 years – 15, if you count the two times I helped organize workshops during SEG.

What you may not know is that we have never formally appointed a chair for the conference, which has always been a collaboration among friends with a shared passion for making a difference in Houston and supporting the digital transformation – even before digital transformation was all the hype. Having said that, no conference program can come to life without a conductor of sorts – professional nagger, some will say. Conductor is probably the best description of my role over the years. All credit goes to the committee members. I am here to make sure we don’t miss a beat. It is bittersweet to step back, but the time has come for me to move on and for others to pick up the baton. I will continue to be part of this community as it is a part of who I am. It is in my DNA, so I look forward to being connected but less visible.

When we launched the workshop – yes, it was a workshop back then — in 2008, it was a modest experiment among like-minded HPC colleagues who had many shared experiences, not all of them good. Simply put, we wanted to create a pre-competitive networking platform that would allow us to share experiences and best practices, and work on shared challenges openly and inclusively. Our premise was that Houston is the home for some of the largest HPC deployments. However, as a city known for its heavy asset industry: 1) We lacked the visibility and voice that was afforded the national laboratories. 2) We lacked a platform to position the energy industry to engage the computing and data industry to flag technology needs and challenges. 3) We lacked the recognition for being a high-tech job market, making it a challenge to attract and retain the computationally skilled workforce needed to innovate in the energy industry.

The workshop continued to grow year by year until we hit 330 in attendance in 2013 and we outgrew our first venue. We would have been living a lie if we continued calling it a workshop, so we morphed into the Oil & Gas HPC Conference in 2014. We have since averaged about 500 attendees each year. The program grew from a one-day event to three-day program with pre- and post-conference workshops.

Many of you here today have been with us from the start. We could not have done this without your continued support and interest. You are the reason we are here. I want to thank all of our sponsors that have been steadfast in their support. Without you the conference could not have survived. In particular I want to call out Intel: You have been unwavering in your commitment to our community by being a lead-level sponsor since we started. Thank you, Noe Garcia.

As for this year’s program we have a remarkable lineup of keynotes and plenaries representing energy (BP, Total), IT (AMD, HPE), academia (Rice), and technology transformation and entrepreneurship (Intel Capital, The Ion). These lectures are complemented by 20 talks, selected from submitted abstracts, arranged in four sessions. At the conclusion of the conference we will bring you the student-focused poster session. In this way, you and graduate students can talk new technology and opportunities for internships and jobs. To kick off the conference many of you will attend a set of pre-conference workshops, and some of you will stay on to attend one of the Wednesday workshops.

What we all have in common is the shared passion for technology and a desire to drive innovation that will leverage the next wave of innovation to meet industry needs. However, technology is not enough to address the challenges we face today. To recruit and retain the best talent in Houston, we must do more. We must showcase the opportunities we have and lead in the development and support of a diverse workforce, one that echoes the diversity of our city.

I am proud of our conference and want to thank all of the OG-HPC Conference Sponsors and Partners, including those who support the Ken Kennedy Institute’s graduate fellowship programs at Rice. I want to personally thank the OG-HPC Technical Program Committee for their many contributions to this year’s conference. Together we can make Houston and the energy industry of tomorrow the very best.

As I started with, I am moving to The Ion, where I will help develop and grow a diverse and vibrant technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Houston. The goal of The Ion is to be an innovation hub bringing together entrepreneurs and corporations to enhance the lives of all Houstonians.

Warm regards,

Jan E. Odegard

Executive Director, Ken Kennedy Institute

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Fostering relationships and highlighting trends in HPC for the oil & gas industry.