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Making the Right Connections

Kim Schjang, associate network engineer in the UNLV Office of Information Technology, joins top female IT professionals to construct and operate the world’s fastest volunteer-built network for the SC21 supercomputing conference.

People  |  Jun 1, 2021  |  By Nicole Johnson
Person standing in front of network equipment


Kim Schjang, associate network engineer, was chosen to participate in the Women in IT Networking program and will help construct the network for the SC21 conference later this year.


Editor's Note: 

 SC21 is currently scheduled for Nov. 14-19 in St. Louis, Mo. Event details may change.

Kim Schjang is headed to St. Louis, Mo. to help build one of the world’s fastest temporary networks.

The associate network engineer was selected to participate in the Women in IT Networking (WINS) program, joining other top female technologists in the United States to work alongside engineering experts to set up the network for SC21, an international supercomputing conference. SCinet provides high-speed internet connection for thousands of attendees, researchers, and exhibitors during conference week, Nov. 14-19. 

A Winning Connection

“WINS provides much-needed exposure for women in technology,” said Schjang, who has worked for the network development & engineering team in the UNLV Office of Information Technology (OIT) for three years. “Women are underserved within information technology, particularly in network engineering, and WINS is helping to bridge the gender gap.”

According to the American Association of University Women, women make up only 28 percent of the workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math. Since its inception in 2015, WINS has supported more than 30 female academia and research IT professionals with mentorship and hands-on experience in building SCinet from the ground up, encouraging more women to participate in SC conferences.

“Kim's solid foundational networking knowledge, her eagerness to learn new technology, and her dedication to ensuring successful network implementations make her an ideal candidate for the WINS program,” said Lorita Chesler, associate director for network development & engineering. “I am proud that Kim, without hesitation, has taken on this new challenge and will represent UNLV at the supercomputing conference.”

On the Edge of Connection  

Made up of nearly 200 volunteers, fifteen different teams, ranging from power to logistics to help desk, will construct and operate SCinet. Schjang’s background landed her a spot on the edge network team, which supports network connectivity for conference facilities and events.

“Being handpicked to participate in such a trailblazing program as WINS has opened my mind to a lot of things,” said Schjang. “I worked hard to get where I am today, and this opportunity lets me know that I can take what I learned at UNLV and apply my skills elsewhere, on a much larger scale.”

Schjang will travel to St. Louis two weeks prior to SC21 to install network cable and maintain it throughout the conference.

SC21 celebrates how supercomputing impacted the global community, from vaccine development to autonomous vehicle design, with world-leading scientists, engineers, and technologists focusing on the latest research and emerging technologies.

A Connection with Campus

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Schjang. “Internet connectivity has become increasingly important, especially over the last year, and building bonds with industry leaders can only help us.”

As more network projects are on the horizon at UNLV, Schjang, who led the project that gave the 1930s-era Houssels House internet connection through the university’s network, is excited to share her SCinet experience with the network development & engineering team.

“By sharing what I learned from industry experts with my colleagues, we will be able to build an even stronger network for the campus community.”