10 October 2023 · 2 min read
Unlocking Potential: Insights from the world of Supercomputers
In today’s entry for our ongoing series of interviews with experts in the field of semiconductors, we interviewed Marta Garcìa Gasulla, an HPC specialist with a staggering 17 years of experience working at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center.
Semiconductors serve as the bedrock of Europe's digital transformation. In an increasingly interconnected world, these chips are ubiquitous, powering a vast array of devices. From smartphones to cars to household appliances, nearly everything we use relies on semiconductor technology. Maintaining chip sovereignty is paramount, Ms. Gasulla explains, not only for economic reasons but also for customization. By designing chips locally, Europe can craft solutions precisely tailored to its unique needs and proactively adapt to future technological developments.
"Nowadays, chips are everywhere. So it's easier to name something that has a chip on it, than something that doesn't have a chip on it."
While the potential for growth in the semiconductor industry is immense, attracting and retaining talent has become an increasingly formidable task. Ms. Garcìa Gasulla identified two core issues. Firstly, there is a scarcity of experts in the field, making it challenging to find individuals with the required skills. Secondly, the competitive landscape among companies has intensified, leading to a constant battle to secure and retain top talent. This competition has made it difficult for companies to maintain a stable workforce.
"Attracting is very difficult because there are few experts in this field… But it's also difficult to keep them because there are so many companies hiring that we are competing with each other and stealing the talent from each other."
When it comes to attracting young people to the semiconductor industry, Ms. Garcìa Gasulla believes it's essential to focus on both practical and intrinsic factors. While job security and career prospects are important, she stressed that conveying the sheer enjoyment and satisfaction the field offers is equally crucial. Logical thinking and problem-solving skills are highly valued in this domain, and those who relish intellectual challenges will be deeply rewarded by careers in chips.
“When you try to encourage young people to enter the field, it's much more important to tell them that it's a field that they will enjoy, that it's something that they will have fun doing."
Ms. Garcìa Gasulla bemoaned the prevalent gender gap in the semiconductor industry, particularly as one gets closer to hardware-related roles. She sees the challenge as multi-layered, akin to the complexity of hardware and software co-design. To tackle it effectively, action is needed at every level of the educational and professional pipeline. From inspiring young girls to pursue STEM education to creating inclusive environments in workplaces, the industry must strive for diversity and equity.
Ms. Garcìa Gasulla's insights shed light on the critical role of semiconductor chips in driving Europe's digital transformation. Her extensive experience and advice on talent acquisition and addressing the gender gap provide a roadmap for the industry to navigate the challenges and opportunities on the path to innovation and growth.
"We need to show little girls that they are good at it, that they can do it, that we need them."