CONTACT: Jim Danneskiold, 505-667-1640 (98-066)


High School Supercomputing Challenge awards at Los Alamos on April 30

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., April 24, 1998 - About 230 of New Mexico's youngest supercomputer programmers will gather at the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory on Thursday (April 30) to claim scholarships, savings bonds and other prizes at the eighth annual New Mexico High School Supercomputing Challenge.

About 50 teams, including about a dozen finalist teams, will tour the Los Alamos supercomputers on which they have been running programs all year, show off their skills and hear talks from researchers at Los Alamos.

More than 400 students and 81 teachers made up the 112 teams from 46 schools that 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 event 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 4,000 New Mexico students and has influenced career decisions and life directions of many of these students," said Charlie Slocomb, director of the Laboratory's Computing, Information and Communications Division. "We are proud that several former participants in the Challenge are now permanent staff members at Los Alamos contributing to our major programs."

During the final judging Wednesday and Thursday, the teams will be vying for scholarships, savings bonds, trophies and computer equipment for their schools.

Last year, two sisters from Highland High School in Albuquerque designed a computer program that reveals strain on automobile wheels to capture first place, while second place went to a trio from Española Valley High who made an environmental computer model of the Mediterranean Sea to learn whether global warming could be reduced by dissolving the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the sea.

The top individual prize - a four-year scholarship good for $2,500 a year at any four-year New Mexico college or university - went to Samuel Morales of Silver High School.

Some of this year's student reports are available on-line at the following URL:

http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/finalreports

Other final and interim reports and abstracts are available at: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us

Teams and individual winners will receive their prizes during ceremonies from 1-3 p.m. at the Smith Auditorium, Los Alamos High School. The awards ceremony will be followed at 3:30 p.m. by a reception for the finalist teams at the Oppenheimer Study Center.

Unlike other computing competitions, the New Mexico High School Supercomputing Challenge is unique because it offers supercomputer access to students at every level of expertise and stresses student activity over work by teachers and coaches. Nearly 4,000 students have taken part in the Supercomputing Challenge.

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. U.S. 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 14 businesses, educational institutions, and national laboratories. Twenty-four other businesses and educational institutions participate as contributors.

In addition to Los Alamos National Laboratory, sponsors are: New Mexico Technet Inc.; Phillips Laboratory; Sandia National Laboratories; University of New Mexico; New Mexico State University; New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology; Albuquerque Tribune; Silicon Graphics Inc.; CHECS Inc.; Intel Corp.; GATEWAY 2000; Microsoft Corp.; and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Contributors are: Anixter Inc.; Aquila Technologies; Avnet; Belew's Office Supply Inc.; CISCO Systems Inc.; Eastern New Mexico University; Four Corners Technology; General Office Supply; HA-LO Enterprises; Kenneth Ingham Consulting; Klein Enterprises; KRQE-TV, Channel 13; Network New Mexico; New Mexico Academic & Research Libraries; New Mexico Highlands University; New Mexico Junior College; New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped; New Mexico State Department of Education; San Juan College; Santa Fe Community College; Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC); University of New Mexico -- Gallup; and University of New Mexico -- Los Alamos.

Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy.


NOTE TO EDITORS: Media are welcome to meet some of the supercomputing scholars and view posters describing their work during a final judging event Thursday from 10 to 11 a.m. in Room 240, J. Robert Oppenheimer Study Center.


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