New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

The Supercomputing Challenge Winners, 2008-2009

Top prize at the Supercomputing Challenge Awards Day was captured by Erika DeBenedictis, Chris Hong, and Tony Huang who are Team 4 from La Cueva High School in Albuquerque. Their project "A Novel Approach to Asteroid Identification Using Image Processing of Existing Data", earned each student a $1,000 check. The team's mentor is Dr. Erik DeBenedictis. Their project, also won the Cray, Inc. High Performance Award. In December, Erika and Tony were winners of a $40,000 award from Siemens Competition. This is Erika's third first-place win in the Challenge and Tony's second.

But that's not all! Team 4 also won the Awards for Best Written Report from the Society for Technical Communication and the Computational Science Award. Both of these awards come with crisp $100 bills.

Second Prize, $500 for each team member, was awarded to Albuquerque's Manzano High School Team 66, Kristin Cordwell and Chen Zhao. Their project is called "Elliptic Curve Computations". Their sponsoring teacher is Steve Schum and their mentor is William Cordwell. Council for Higher Education Computing/Communication Services awarded the team the Best Internet Research Prize and a $500 cash award.

Kristin kept right on winning and garnered the award from the New Mexico Network for Women in Science and Engineering and $100 in cash. The certificate reads "Recognizing your potential for a career in mathematics." Kristin was on the Supercomputing Challenge winning team two years ago.

Los Alamos Middle School's Team 65 took third place with a project called "Energy Efficiency Through Smart Wall Design". The winners are Rachel Robey and Gabe Montoya and they received $250 each. Their teacher sponsor is Bob Dryja and their mentors and Bob Robey and Derrick Montoya. They started this project last year and have extended their work by adding a verification system using USB drives to collect data.

Additional Finalist teams were:
Desert Academy's Team 35, (Santa Fe) for "Implementation and Optimization of the RSA Encryption Method", Colton McDonald, C. Rose Morris-Wright, Avery Rowlison and Bjorn Swenson,
Los Alamos High 52, for "Get With the Flow Man! A Study of the Thermodynamics of Civil Engineering",
Los Alamos High Team 55, for "Far From the Tree: Newtonian Gravitational N-Body Simulation",
Melrose High Team 71, for "The Control and Spread of Wildfires", Kyle Jacobs, Angel Lucero, Richard Rush and Ramon Arenivar,
Sandia Prep Team 95, for "Vibrational Spectroscopy and Normal Mode Analysis Applied to Human Prion Protein E200K", Jeff Fenschel, Christopher Parzyck, and Evan Hughes,
and Silver High 98, for "Modeling, the Sun-Earth-Moon System" Powell Brown, Ted Benakis, and John McCauley.
All are taking home posters for their school trophy cabinets and Hexbot Crab Bots that recognize motion and darkness.

The Creativity and Innovation Award plus $100 from Sandia National Laboratories went to Team 106 for their project "Machine Vision and Alternative Game Control". Tenzen Lekden Lugtok and Cole Tuffli from Monte Del Sol Charter School in Santa Fe developed an air hockey game using Wiimotes for remote motion detection. Their teacher is Natalie Martino and their mentors are Stephen Guerin and John Paul Gonzales.

The Passion for Science Award went home with Freedom High School, Team 41. Their project "Fractal Illuminations" showed the beauty of the Mandelbrot set. Freedom is an alternative high in Albuquerque. They also took home two beautiful $50 bills. Their teacher Joe Vertrees is also their mentor.

Team 16 from Aspen Elementary School in Los Alamos won the Los Alamos National Laboratory Environmental Modeling Award and $100. Jacob Holesinger, Emma Martins, and Talia Dreicer are fifth and sixth graders whose project "Where Oh Where Did The Jumping Mice Go?" Zeynap Unal is their teacher and their mentor is Jared Dreicer. Where did those mice go?

Teamwork Award went to Colin Redman, Matthew Ticknor, Michael Englert-Erickson, and Dhaivat Pandya who make Team 15 from Aspen Elementary in Los Alamos. Their project "Interplanetary Travel in a Closed Ecosystem" earned $100. When one team member moved to Florida they set up a blog for planning and reporting out to each other. Their mentors are Elizabeth Cooper and Jim Redman. Their teacher is Zeynap Unal.

The Best Use of Multiple Languages award went to McCurdy School in Espanola. Team 68 members are Brandon Ramirez, Dennis Trujillo, and Francisco Vigil. They used NetLogo and Fortran in their project called "Magnetosphere Particle Interaction". Their teachers are John Paul Lorenzen and Irina Cislaru and their mentors are Michelle Thompsen and Robert Robey. The team will share $100.

Team 105 from Monte del Sol Charter School and Capshaw Middle School in Santa Fe are sharing $100 for the Best Web Presentation of a Final Report for their project "Universally Accessible Distributed Computing on Public, Heterogeneous Networks, Applied to the Search for Mersenne Primes". They are Max Bond and Harsha Doda and their teacher is Natalie Martino and their mentor is Nick Bennett. Alumni of Project GUTS they networked a set of 25 or more laptops plus many more people through their web applet to find the primes. By last weekend they were approaching discovery of the 29th prime. At press time they had just discovered the 29th and were working on the 30th.

The Award for Best Agent Based Modeling goes to Melrose High School Team 71 for "Control and Spread of Wildfire". Kyle Jacobs, Angel Lucero, Richard Rush and Ramon Arenivar are sharing $100. The proud teachers are Alan Daugherty and Beckey Raulie. Their interest was piqued by their parents who are volunteer firefighters and their project modeled the spread of grassland fires.

Team 45 received the Community Focus Award and $100 for their project "Get on the Bus.Simple or Not". Isaac Koh from Los Alamos High School was mentored by his father Aik-Siong Koh. Isaac's project focused on Los Alamos bus routes and is scalable to other communities.

The Crowd Favorite award went to Melrose High Team 76 for "Hawk EyE". Team members are Brandon Mitchell, Ryan Hemminger, Quentin Flores, and Victoria Northup. Teachers are Alan Daugherty and Rebecca Raulie. The Crowd Favorite was selected by all the participants - teams, teachers, and mentors - based on a gallery walk through all the posters and the team will share $100.

The Award for Best Professional Presentation Award, given by the Albuquerque Journal, went to Team 61 from Los Alamos Middle School. They were well-prepared, articulate, dressed appropriately, and responsive to feedback. The team members are Sam Baty and Peter Armijo. Their teacher sponsor is Bob Dryja and their mentors are Dr. Christopher Fryer and Dr. Stephen Diehl. Their title is "Astrophysical N-Body Simulations of Star Clusters".

Team 18 is taking home the Bingaman's Middle School Award. Although Aspen is not technically a middle school, the judges were impressed with the sixth grader's work and observed that in many communities in New Mexico, sixth graders are in middle school. Devon Conradson's project is "Rocky Planet Formation as the Universe Ages" and won him $100. His teacher is Zeynep Unal and his mentor Steven Conradson.

Desert Academy from Santa Fe won the Encryption Award for their project "Implementation and Optimization of the RSA Encryption Method". Team members are Colton McDonald, C. Rose Morris-Wright, Avery Rowlison and Bjorn Swenson. The team is sharing $100.

Melrose Junior High's Team 75 won the Technical Poster for their display board that was made from galvanized tin. Their project is "Programming Agents to Locate Items in Buildings". Their poster will be the logo for the 2008-2009 Final Reports which will be publish the Kickoff in October 2009. The team members are Randall Rush and Kaleb Broome and they will share two $200. Their teachers are Alan Daugherty and Beckey Raulie.

Silver High School's Finalist Team 98 won the Graphical Poster Award. Their project is "Modeling, the Sun-Earth-Moon System". The Poster Award graphic becomes the T-Shirt Logo which also goes on the Book Tote Bags for Teachers. The logo is selected by a vote of the participants and teachers after looking at all the posters. Silver High team members are Powell Brown, Ted Benakis, and John McCauley and won a $200 cash award.

Judges have the discretion to make special awards. This year it was called "Judges' Special Award for Biotech" and it went with $100 to Team 95 from Sandia Prep in Albuquerque for "Vibrational Spectroscopy and Normal Mode Analysis Applied to Human Prion Protein E200K". Team members are Jeff Fenchel, Christopher Parzyck, and Evan Hughes.

The Supercomputing Challenge's Governor's Award was given to Dr. Thomas Laub, from Sandia National Laboratories. Tom has worked with the Challenge for ten years or more as a mentor to teams and as a teacher at our Fall Kickoff. For several years he has organized a tour of Sandia which brings teams from all over the state to see the supercomputers and graphics rendering and the robot labs.

The Teacher Appreciation Award goes to two long-time Challenge teachers who get their teams up early in the morning and drive the bus to Glorieta or Albuquerque or Los Alamos activities in the Challenge Year. They are Beckey Raulie and Alan Daugherty from Melrose High. They were nominated an appreciative mother and son who told the Challenge about the extra field trip opportunities Beckey and Alan give their students.

The Challenge is pleased to give Silver High School an award to honor their longtime mentor Dr. Berry Estes, who died last year. Dr. Estes was retired nuclear engineer from Sandia Laboratories and Challenge judge for many years.

This year the Challenge is giving $50,000 in scholarship awards from LANL's Division of Computer, Computational, and Statistical Sciences Division. An additional $2500 came from Intel, $2000 from the Challenge for the Willard Smith Scholarships and $9,000 was given by instate colleges and universities.

Sunni Rae BairdBloomfield$5,000NMSU
Ben BathaLAHS$850Undecided
Ted BenakisSilver $5,000U of A
Steven Benne Manzano$2,000UNM,
Powell BrownSilver $850Undecided
Chad BustardAcademy$3,000Rice
Erica CenicerosNVCS$850UNM
Nuria ClodiusLAHS$1,500Undecided
Kristin CordwellManzano$3,000Princeton
Daniel CoxLAHS$850NMT
Riki EdwardsBloomfield$850Undecided
Jeff FrenchelSandia Prep$850NMT
John Paul GonzalesNVCS$850UNM
Tony Huang Cueva$3,000MIT, CalTech
Lindy JacobsLAHS$4,500Whtiman
John McCauley Silver$850NMSU
Rose Morris-WrightDesert$1,500Swathmore
Samantha OchoaNVCS$850UNM
Lane PabloBloomfield$850NMT
William Phillips IVLAHS$1,500Brown
Brandon RamirezMcCurdy$850UNM
Jon RobeyLAHS$850U of W
Ivan RodriguezNVCS$850UNM
Avery RowlisonDesert$850Undecided
Kandese SpikesArtesia$2,000Eastern
Kelly SteinburgLAHS$850UNM, NMSU
Shyra ValdezBloomfield$1,500UNM
Francisco VigilMcCurdy$5,850NMSU
Boe WattersBosque$850Undecided
Ethan WilliamsArtesia$850Undecided
Scott WilsonManzano$5,000UNM
Shane WilsonArtesia$5,000NMT

Now in its 19th year, the Challenge is open to any New Mexico high-school or middle-school student. Over the past year, more than 320 students from 25 schools around the state researched scientific problems, developed sophisticated computer programs, learned computer science with mentors from the state's national laboratories and other organizations, and got the opportunity to run their programs on some of the world's most powerful computers.

The goal of the year-long event is to increase knowledge of science and computing; expose students and teachers to computers and applied mathematics; and instill enthusiasm for science in middle- and high-school students, their families and communities. Participating students improve their understanding of technology by developing skills in scientific inquiry, modeling, computing, communications and teamwork.

Supercomputing Challenge Sponsors:

Primary Sponsors:

Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, the State of New Mexico

Educational Partners:

CHECS, Eastern New Mexico University, MIT Starlogo, New Mexico Highlands University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Northern New Mexico College, New Mexico Public Education Department, New Mexico State University, San Juan College, Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe Institute, Tennessee State University and the University of New Mexico

Commercial Partners-Gold:

Lockheed Martin, Sandia National Laboratories, Siemens Foundation, Wolfram Research, Inc.

Commercial Partners-Silver:

Google RISE, Gulfstream Group and, Intel Corporation, One Connect IP, VanDyke Software, Inc. and ZiaNet

Commercial Partners-Bronze:

Abba Technologies/SGI, Albuquerque Tribune, Apogentech, BX Internet, iniCom Networks Inc, Lobo Internet Services, New Mexico Technology and Council, New Mexico Technet/Computer Reruns, New Mexico Internet Professionals Association, Redfish Group and Strategic Analytics

More information on the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge can be found at online, while final student reports are available at online.

For questions about the Supercomputing Challenge, a 501(c)3 organization, contact us at: consult @