The Vision of the Supercomputing Challenge is to be a nationally recognized program that
promotes computational thinking in science and engineering so that the next generation of
high school graduates is better prepared to compete in an information based economy.
The Mission of the Supercomputing Challenge is to teach teams of middle and high schools
students how to use powerful computers to analyze, model
and solve real world problems.
About the Supercomputing Challenge
The Supercomputing Challenge is an exciting program that offers a
truly unique experience to students in our state. The opportunity to
work on the most powerful computers in the world is currently
available to only a very few students in the entire United States,
but in New Mexico, it is just one of the benefits of living in the
"Land of Enchantment."
The Supercomputing Challenge is a program encompassing the school
year in which teams of students complete science projects using
high-performance supercomputers. Each team of up to five students and
a sponsoring teacher defines and works on a single computational
project of its own choosing.
Throughout the program, help and support are given to the teams by
their project advisors and the Supercomputing Challenge organizers
The Supercomputing Challenge is open to all interested students in
grades 6 through 12 on a non-selective basis. The program has no
grade point, class enrollment or computer experience prerequisites.
Participants come from public, private, parochial and home-based
schools in all areas of New Mexico. The important requirement for
participating is a real desire to learn about science and computing.
Supercomputing Challenge teams tackle a range of interesting
problems to solve. The most successful projects address a topic that
holds great interest for the team. In recent years, ideas for
projects have come from Astronomy, Geology, Physics, Ecology,
Mathematics, Economics, Sociology, and Computer Science. It is very
important that the problem a team chooses is what we call "real
world" and not imaginary. A "real world" problem has
measurable components. We use the term Computational Science to refer
to science problems that we wish to solve and explain using computer
models. See science projects for
details and examples.
Those teams who make significant progress on their projects can
enter them in the competition for awards of savings bonds and
scholarships for the individuals and computer equipment for the
school. Team trophies are also awarded for: Teamwork, Best Written
Report, Best Professional Presentation, Electronic Search &
Browse, Creativity and Innovation, Environmental Modeling, High
Performance, Multimedia and the Judges' Special Award.
The Supercomputing Challenge is offered at minimal cost to the
participants or the school district. It is sponsored by a partnership
of federal laboratories, universities, and businesses. They provide
food and lodging for the kickoff conference during which students and
teachers are shown how to use supercomputers, learn programming
languages, how to analyze data, write reports and much more.
These sponsors also supply time on the supercomputers and lend
equipment to schools that need it. Employees of the sponsoring groups
conduct training sessions at workshops and advise teams throughout
The Challenge Year opens with a Kickoff at a Conference
Center where students attend talks and tutorials on essential
knowledge for successful completion of the Challenge. In the middle
of the year, Sandia National Laboratory hosts a tour with talks and
demonstrations of technology developed at Sandia. The year culminates
at Los Alamos National Laboratory in late April with a Project Expo
and Judging followed by an Awards Ceremony.
The New Mexico High School Supercomputing Challenge was conceived
in 1990 by former Los Alamos Laboratory Director Sig Hecker and Tom Thornhill,
president of New Mexico Technet Inc., a nonprofit company that in
1985 set up a computer network to link the state's national
laboratories, universities, state government and some private
companies. Senator Pete Domenici and John Rollwagen, then chairman and chief
executive officer of Cray Research Inc., added their support.
In 2001, the Adventures in Supercomputing program formerly housed
at Sandia National Laboratories and then at the Albuquerque High
Performance Computing Center at the University of New Mexico merged
with the former New Mexico High School Supercomputing Challenge to
become the New Mexico High School Adventures in Supercomputing
In 2002, the words "High School"
were dropped from the name as middle school teams had been invited to
participate in 2000 and had done well.
In the summer of 2005, the name was
simplified to the Supercomputing Challenge.
In 2007, the Challenge began collaborating with the middle school
Project GUTS, (Growing Up Thinking Scientifically), an NSF grant housed
at the Santa Fe Institute.
In 2013, the Challenge began collaborating with New Mexico Computer
Science for All, an NSF funded program based at the Santa Fe Institute
that offers a comprehensive teacher professional development program in
Computer Science including a UNM Computer Science course for teachers.
Concept of the Supercomputing Challenge
Phases of the Supercomputing Challenge
Overview presentation (PPT)
about the Supercomputing Challenge.
Promotional movie for the
State Legislature (7 minutes, 11megs)
Trifold flyer about the Challenge, (PDF file)
The 2009 Challenge Strategic Plan (.pdf)
HYS Challenge Career Workshop