Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Brian Rosen, left, Robert Cordwell, holding plaque, and their teacher, Stephen Schum, right, of Albuquerque's ManzanoHigh School, took second place in the 12th annual New Mexico High School Adventures in Science Supercomputing Challenge, which concluded Tuesday at the Laboratory. The students each received $500 savings bonds and their teacher was awarded a computer for his classroom. The duo used a bitslicing method to try to speed up the Advanced Encryption Standard to improve encryption of large data sets. The pair also won the Cray High Performance Computing Award. Photo by LeRoy N. Sanchez, Public Affairs

Silver High School team takes top honors in 12th high school supercomputing competition at Los Alamos

A computer wizard from Silver High School who built a model of how human culture evolves took home the top prize Tuesday in the 12th annual New Mexico High School Adventures in Supercomputing Challenge at the Laboratory.

Roeland Hancock, the sole member of Team 90 from Silver High, won a $1,000 savings bond for his supercomputing project, "Computer Modeling of Cultural Interaction and Evolution." His teacher, Peggy Larisch, received a computer for her classroom. Mentors who advised Hancock are Steve Blake and David Harris.

Starting with the assumption that the driving force behind human culture is survival, Hancock created a simulation environment based on the activities of individual agents. The initial, simulated population performed simple interactions, which were refined over generations using a genetic algorithm. Hancock also won the Teachers' Choice Award.

Moriarty High School students Eric Owen, Eric Geil and Jens Madsen, left to right, discuss their Supercomputing Challenge project amongst themselves Monday at the Los Alamos Research Park. Their project dealt with the detection of black holes. Paula Avery is the team's sponsor. The 12th Annual Supercomputing Challenge drew 170 students from schools all over New Mexico. Photo by James E. Rickman, Public Affairs

"Unfortunately, all 19 participants from Silver High are involved in the Challenge and other school and athletic events, so they had to return home early," said Challenge co-coordinator David Kratzer of High Performance Computing (CCN-7). "We will travel to Silver City to present their awards to them."

A duo of computer aces, Robert Cordwell and Brian Rosen from Manzano High School in Albuquerque, Team 50, took second place with their project, "Tales from the Encrypt." They each received $500 savings bonds and their teacher, Stephen Schum, was awarded a computer for his classroom. The duo used a bitslicing method to try to speed up the Advanced Encryption Standard to improve encryption of large data sets. The pair also won the Cray High Performance Computing Award.

Top individual honors went to Heather Menzer of Silver High School. She received the Amy Boulanger Memorial scholarship, from New Mexico Technet, which is good for $2,400 a year for four years at any accredited institution of higher education in the United States.

Nearly 170 students from 48 high school teams were at Los Alamos on Monday and Tuesday to hear talks from researchers at Los Alamos and tour the Laboratory's supercomputing centers. Students from 36 schools throughout New Mexico spent the last year researching scientific problems and writing programs, which they then ran on supercomputers at Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories.

Some of the more than 170 students from schools throughout New Mexico that took part in the New Mexico High School Adventures in Supercomputing Challenge attended the awards ceremony Tuesday in the Administration Building Auditorium at Technical Area 3. Photo by LeRoy N. Sanchez, Public Affairs

This year, Adventures in Supercomputing and the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge merged to create the Adventures in Supercomputing Challenge, or AiS Challenge. Twelve teams qualified as finalists and made formal presentations of their work to their peers and guests at the AiS Challenge Awards Expo on Monday. Final reports by 42 of the 48 teams that finished the AiS Challenge can be viewed at online.

For the first time, the students and teachers from the top two teams will win a trip to NASA's Ames Research Center of Excellence in Sunnyvale, Calif. NASA Ames is one of the many sponsors of the AiS Challenge.

Another innovation for this year's AiS Challenge is the award of a $100 gift certificate to all the students and teachers from the four teams who garnered the top Honorable Mention awards. Those team members, schools, teachers and projects are the following:

In addition, each student and teacher in the second set of Honorable Mention teams received a $50 Gift Certificate. Students, schools, teachers and projects are:

The goal of the New Mexico High School AiS 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 student in grades seven through 12 can enter the Challenge.

The AiS Challenge is unique because it offers supercomputer access to students at every level of expertise and stresses computational science research projects, said co-coordinator Kratzer. Eric Ovaska of Enterprise Support and Computer Education (IM-2), co-coordinator of the AiS Challenge, said some of the projects are as good at those worked on by graduate students.

"We expect to see many of these students working at Los Alamos in the next decade," Ovaska said.

Several participants can pursue their computing careers at New Mexico universities with scholarships awarded on Tuesday. In addition to the Boulanger award captured by Heather Menzer from Silver High, Cristin McDonald from Bloomfield High School received a $2,500 scholarship from Intel Corp. Caleb Crawford from Santa Fe High School received a $3,000 scholarship from Compaq Corp. Tyler Burgett of Bloomfield High School was awarded the New Mexico State Physics Department $1,000 scholarship. C.V. Harris from Magdelana High School also won a one-year tuition scholarship from NMSU. And Craig Stahle of Bloomfield High School received a $2,400 scholarship to New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

Laura Stupin of Santa Fe High School, makes some last minute checks on her team's work on a laptop next to the poster describing their project during Monday's judging portion of the 12th New Mexico High School Adventures in Supercomputing Challenge. The team developed a computer model of sand dune formation by modeling how particles of sand move through the air. The Santa Fe High team was one of 12 finalist teams. Other team members are Teresa Davis, Jennifer Bartels and Robert Mansfield. Anita Gerlach is the team's teacher. Photo by James E. Rickman, Public Affairs

Altogether, more than $21,000 in scholarships were given to AiS Challenge participants this year.

Other students took home special awards for their exceptional projects in the 12th annual event.

Silver High Team 93 received the Los Alamos National Laboratory Environmental Modeling Award for "The Physics of Electrofishing." Members of that team are Davin Richardson and Monte Topmiller; their teacher is Peggy Larisch; and their mentors are Joy Garcia and Berry Estes.

Silver High Team 92 won the Los Alamos National Laboratory Best HTML Award for its report, "An Ancient Calculator: The Quipu." Members of the team included Rhiannon Houch and Ruben Guadiana. Peggy their teacher and their mentor is Daniel Houch. See online.

"Dreams," by Silver High Team 94, received the Microsoft Corp.'s Award for best use of Microsoft Office. Team members are Ariel Wallin and Ryan Schnalzer and their teacher is Peggy Larisch.

Moriarty High School Team 59 received the Creativity and Innovation Award from Sandia National Laboratories for their project "Is It Really your Car . . . Or Just the Corner?" Team members are Jamie O'Dell and Angelica Delgadillo. Their teacher is Paula Avery and their mentor is John Russell.

Picacho Middle School Team 68 won the Judges Special Recognition Award for their report on "Nitrogen Contamination in Groundwater." Team members are Brendan Sullivan, Sean Turner, Reese Luckie and Cole Salopek. Their teacher is Jean McCray.

Students set up poster exhibits of their work on Monday at the AiS Challenge Expo. There they shared their work with other teams and were judged for awards. During the Expo students and teachers choose projects for the following special awards.

The Tuesday morning Awards Ceremony began with a welcome from Laboratory director Dr. John Browne who congratulated the students on their accomplishments and spoke of the Lab's need for talent that was evident in the AiS Challenge participants and about how technology and supercomputing will play a part in the future. Following Dr. Browne's welcome, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) congratulated the audience via a video taped message, and then Senator Pete Dominici (R-NM) called from Washington, D.C. and was patched into the public address system so that he too could congratulate and encourage the AiS Challenge participants.

The AiS Challenge was conceived in 1990 as the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge 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. U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and John Rollwagen, then chairman and chief executive officer of Cray Research Inc., added their support. This year, the Adventures in Supercomputing and the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge merged to create the Adventures in Supercomputing Challenge (AiS Challenge).

The backbone of the AiS Challenge is the cadre of 32 state-wide judges who work with students at the kickoff conference and interim evaluations, read all the final reports, participate in a conference call to select first-round finalists, and judge expo projects and finalist teams. Judges come from the AiS Challenge educational partners, Sandia, and Kirtland. Joe Watts, David Olivas, D.M. Quintana, Dennis Padilla, Tom Nelson, Gina Fisk, Lisa Gardner, Katherine Campbell, Tinka Gammel, Josh Neil, Douglas Wokoun, Eric Weigle, Bill McKerley, Julianne Stidham and Mike Fisk are the Los Alamos National Laboratory judges.

The AiS Challenge is sponsored by the Laboratory, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, the Department of Energy, NASA Ames Research Center and New Mexico Technet. Educational Partners are CHECS, Eastern New Mexico University, New Mexico Highlands University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, New Mexico Department of Education, New Mexico State University, San Juan College, Santa Fe Community College and the University of New Mexico.

A strong contingent of other sponsors contributed to the 2002 AiS Challenge. Gold Commercial partners are Compaq Corp., Microsoft Corp., Sandia National Laboratories and the Siemens Foundation. Silver Commercial partners are AT&T Wireless, Belew's Office Supply, Cray, DP Signal, Gianopoulos Design, Gulfstream Group and, Intel Corp., Kinko's, Lockheed Martin and ZiaNet. Bronze Commercial partners are the Albuquerque Tribune, Paul Duke, Home Run Pizza of Los Alamos, New Mexico Educational Assistance Foundation, New Mexico Internet Professionals Association, George and Vera Pulley, SM3S (Tom Hill), the Regional Development Corporation, the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists, or MAES, Sprint PCS and Valor Telecom.

More information about the program and copies of the final reports are available for viewing at the AiS Challenge Web site at online.

Students and teachers now are looking forward to the next big event of the AiS Challenge year, the Summer Teacher Institute, where past and future AiS Challenge teachers work together on how to help their teams compete in the AiS Challenge. See on the Web.

--David Kratzer and Jim Danneskiold