Dr Steve Spall, Managing Director, Knowtra Ltd.
“My name’s Steve Spall and I run a small company called Knowtra. My work’s very much at the computing end of oceanography and weather. The computing issues I have is - one thing I do is computer simulations of the ocean, and in general the simulations get better the more computer power you have. High performance computing has benefits because it means I can take on a wider range of projects. There are certain projects that I could have been limited by the computer resources I have; it means I can deliver better products to my clients, because I have more computing power there to apply to these problems.
“One area where I think HPC Wales has helped me achieve more has been in carrying out simulations for West Africa. I work closely with an engineering company who do a lot of work in West Africa, and it’s enabled me to do better quality simulations for one of the ports of the area. My research impacts on people’s lives through informing projects and giving them the best information that the project can have, for example, the development of a port will have an impact on the community that live around that port for a long time, so making the right decisions when you’re doing development is important, and I think the simulations I can carry out help inform that process.
“High performance computing’s made a difference to what I do because now I’m not limited by the computer power I have available. Previously I’ve always had to think, you know, what is feasible, and often there’d be having to draw the line at a certain point because I’d just know that I wouldn’t really have the computing to carry out certain tasks.
“I think my work would suffer without the HPC facilities in that there would be certain projects I perhaps wouldn’t be able to take on, there are certain strands of work and research that I think would perhaps have to stop if I didn’t have access to the system.
“My hopes for the future are that I can grow the company, be taking on more of the sort of work I do and also get into more innovative areas, and I think that HPC Wales helped me in that, in that I’ve been able to test out new ideas on the system and be able to take those things forward that are all looking promising for the future.”
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