Year long New Mexico high school supercomputing challenge concludes Wednesday at the Lab
More than 120 of New Mexico's youngest supercomputer programmers will gather at the Laboratory on Wednesday (April 25) to claim scholarships, savings bonds and other prizes at the 11th annual New Mexico High School Supercomputing Challenge awards ceremony.
Nearly 250 students competed in the challenge; 30 teams, including about a dozen finalist teams, will tour the Los Alamos computers on which they have been running programs all year, show off their skills and hear talks from researchers at Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories.
Teams and individual winners will receive their prizes during an awards ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. in the Laboratory's J. Robert Oppenheimer Study Center at Technical Area 3. A reception open to the finalists, judges and news media follows at noon also in the Study Center.
The students and teachers have spent the last year researching scientific problems and writing programs to solve them on supercomputers at Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories.
The goal of the year-long New Mexico High School Supercomputing Challenge is to increase knowledge of science and computing, expose students and teachers to computers and applied mathematics, and instill enthusiasm for science in high school students, their families and communities. Any New Mexico high school student in grades 9-12 is eligible to enter the Challenge.
"The Supercomputing Challenge has touched the lives of more than 5,100 New Mexico students and has influenced career decisions and life directions of many of these students," said David Kratzer of High Performance Computing (CCN-7).
"We are proud that more than 60 former participants in the Challenge are now permanent staff members at Los Alamos contributing to our major programs," said Eric Ovaska of Customer Services (IM-2).
During the final judging today and Wednesday, the teams will be vying for scholarships, savings bonds, trophies and computer equipment for their schools.
Last year, three Albuquerque Sandia Preparatory School computer aces took home the top prize for their supercomputer program "Pattern Analysis of High Throughput Flow Cytometry Data." The second place award went to a trio from Albuquerque Academy for their project "Lucifer's Hammer."
The top individual prize last year - a four-year scholarship good for $2,500 a year at any four-year New Mexico college or university - went to Tony Easton of Silver City High School. A total of $36,000 in scholarships were awarded last year.
A list of this year's student reports can be found at www.challenge.nm.org online.
The Supercomputing Challenge was conceived in 1990 by former Los Alamos Director Sig Hecker and Tom Thornhill, president of New Mexico Technet Inc., a non-profit company that in 1985 set up a computer network to link the state's national laboratories, universities, state government and some private companies. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and John Rollwagen, then chairman and chief executive officer of Cray Research Inc., added their support.
The Supercomputing Challenge is sponsored by the Laboratory and New Mexico Technet Inc. Benefactors include: Compaq Corp.; Intel Corp.; Kinko's; Microsoft Corp.; and NASA-Minority University Space Interdisciplinary Network.
Patrons include: Sandia National Laboratories; University of New Mexico; New Mexico State University; New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology; Albuquerque Tribune; Cray; Council for High Education Computing Services, or CHECS Inc.; Eastern New Mexico University; New Mexico Highlands University; New Mexico Department of Education; San Juan College; Santa Fe Community College; Belew's Office Supply; Dean Gianopoulus Design; New Mexico Internet Providers Association; Miller Bonded; and ZiaNet.