High School Students Take on Supercomputing Challege at LANL

The New Mexico High School Supercomputing Challenge is an academic program dedicated to increasing interest in science and mathematics among high school students by introducing them to high-performance computing. Established in 1990 by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and New Mexico Technet, Inc., the program has trained thousands of students and teachers to use supercomputers for original computational science projects.

A team from Espanola Valley High School receives the LANL Environmental Modeling Award. Photo courtesy Los Alamos National Labs
Teams of students and teachers from 43 schools spent the last year researching scientific problems and writing programs to solve on supercomputers at LANL. Each team defined and worked on a single computational project of its own choosing. Projects represented all areas of science and mathematics, with many teams choosing problems that impacted their local environments.
Nearly 500 students competed in this year's Challenge. Participants receive educational training at workshops, access powerful supercomputers, and tap the expertise of scientists and technical consultants who are available throughout the year-long program. The Challenge is both an educational program and a competition. Teams compete for scholarships, savings bonds, computing equipment for their schools, and other prizes.

"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," says David Kratzer of the LANL Customer Service Group.

A team from Albuquerque's Academy High School won first prize in this year's Challenge for its project, "The Evolution of Hive Intelligence Using Genetic Programming." Students Ryan Davies, Ryan Duryea, Alex Feuchter, Kevin Oishi, and Tom Widland each took home a $1,000 savings bond and a computer loaded with software for their teacher's classroom. The team also received the Silicon Graphics Inc. High Performance Computing Award and an award from the Society for Technical Communicators for best written report. The Albuquerque Academy team's final report can be viewed at http://mode.lanl.k12.us/challenge/archive/98-99/finalreports/006.

Second prize went to Ryan Ellis, Andrew Perelson, and Nina Weisse-Bernstein of Santa Fe High School for "The Computation of the Gravitational Influences in an N-body System." They each received $500 savings bonds and a computer loaded with software for their classroom.

The Supercomputing Challenge is sponsored by LANL and New Mexico Technet Inc. Benefactors include CISCO Systems Inc., DP Signal, Intel Corporation, Kinko's, and Microsoft Corporation. Patrons include SNL, University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Albuquerque Tribune, SGI, Council for High Education Computing Services, Eastern New Mexico University, New Mexico Highlands University, New Mexico Department of Education, San Juan College, Santa Fe Community College, and the Air Force Research Lab.

For more information about LANL, see http://www.lanl.gov. For more information about the Challenge, see http://www.challenge.nm.org.

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