Team ENCCS – Kjartan Thor Wikfeldt

Tell us a bit about your background

I grew up in a suburb of Reykjavik in Iceland. Since childhood I had always wanted to become a physicist, so in 2002 I moved to Sweden (my second home) to study at Stockholm University. My interests gradually shifted from esoteric topics like superstrings and supermassive black holes to more familiar ones like molecules and materials, and I completed my PhD in chemical physics in 2011. After that I worked as a postdoc first in the UK and then in Iceland, but all those years dedicated to scientific programming and simulation on HPC systems had made me really interested in the technical and computational aspects of theoretical sciences. So when I saw an opening for an application expert in molecular dynamics at the PDC center for HPC at KTH I immediately applied and was fortunate to get the job. While I learned a lot about HPC during my 5 years at PDC, my passion for teaching and developing educational material also grew, in particular through my work in the CodeRefinery project.

What is your role at ENCCS?

When ENCCS was founded and the role as ENCCS training coordinator needed to be filled I was quick to apply. This means that I coordinate the work in the team in developing training material and organizing workshops and hackathons. I get to be the “master of ceremonies” in most of our online workshops given by my brilliant colleagues so I’m also learning a lot about areas outside my own expertise. Training is one of the main pillars of the EuroCC project and I frequently communicate and work with colleagues from other European Competence Centers. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

There’s something about seeing the lights go on in people’s minds when they’re learning a new topic that’s quite addictive - I can experience this even in our online training. I think we’re making a strong impact by delivering all these high-quality training events and I really enjoy feeling that I’m a part of that. I also greatly enjoy having the freedom to develop my own skills and teach new topics.

Where do you hope to see ENCCS in 5 years?

We’re already a great team and I truly hope we’ll all still work together in 5 years. But it would be great if we could expand and have new experts join us from new exciting areas in AI and HPC, and even quantum computing which is a target area of EuroCC. This would increase our impact further. I would also like to see that we keep the dynamic nature of our work where we adapt to the ever-changing landscapes of HPC and AI by developing our own skills, teaching new topics and supporting the development of new HPC and AI software.  

What do you like doing outside of work?

Spending time with my family, hanging out with friends, running in the forest, occasionally swimming in lakes, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, binge-watching TV series. My kids are small so over 90% of my non-work time is in the first category.