July 8, 2009

TeraGrid ’09: Student Participation Soars

by Trish Barker

There was a new energy at this year’s TeraGrid ’09 conference thanks to an outstanding turnout for the student program. Thanks to support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), more than 100 high school, undergraduate and graduate students were able to participate in the conference.

Students attended presentations, keynotes, and panel discussions, presented their work in the poster session, and were invaluable behind-the-scenes volunteers. Many students were paired with mentors who shared their perspectives and insights to encourage the students’ ongoing engagement in the cyberinfrastructure community.

“Integrating student activities at a new level was a primary goal for TeraGrid ’09,” said Conference Chair and TeraGrid Forum Chair John Towns. “With the help of the National Science Foundation and in collaboration with the Open Science Grid, we were wildly successful. The energy and enthusiasm that the students infused into the conference was truly amazing.”
TeraGrid '09 student competition

The student program kicked off on Monday, June 22, when TeraGrid staff provided students with a hands-on introduction to computational science, drilling down to topics like programming on TeraGrid, parallel programming with MPI, using the Cactus development framework, and more. Students also were able to attend the many in-depth tutorials offered on Monday.

On Tuesday, nine teams of students tackled challenging parallel computation problems during the on-site programming contest. From 8:30 a.m. until the final seconds were counted down at 5:00 p.m. the teams labored over their code and solutions. And then the judges labored into the night assessing their results and documentation. The three teams judged to have provided the most complete, accurate, documented, and/or well-designed solutions were:

  • High school team: Anand Oza, Andrew Das Sarma, Rohan Puttagunta of Montgomery Blair High School (Maryland), coached by Susan Ragan.
  • Undergraduate team: Samuel Leeman-Munk, Aaron Weeden, Andrew Fitz Gibbon and Bryan Purcell of Indiana’s Earlham College.
  • Graduate team: Maxwell Hutchinson, Joshua Tepper, David Lewis, Joseph Gersenson and Alejandro Queiruga of Carnegie Mellon University.

Wednesday night many students showed off their work during the poster session. In addition to traditional posters describing student work on projects using the TeraGrid or Open Science Grid, there were also “electronic posters” in which students demonstrated the use of computational science methods to solve science, engineering or mathematics problems. The following students were recognized for outstanding work:

  • Computational Science Electronic Poster, High School: Arjun Sharma and Tim Ravasi of The Bishops School (San Diego), “A Computational Analysis of the Topological Property of the Human Transcription Factors Protein-Protein Networks.”
  • Computational Science Electronic Poster, Graduate: Sairam Tangirala, David P. Landau and Yiping -P. Zhao (The University of Georgia), “The Dynamic Scaling Study of Vapor Deposition Polymerization: A Monte Carlo Approach.”
  • Research poster, Graduate Applications: Joseph Gershenson (Carnegie Mellon University), “Parallel Operations on Omega-Automata.”
  • Research poster, Graduate (Infrastructure): Xiaoming Gao, Mike Lowe and Marlon Pierce (Indiana University), “The Virtual Block Store System.”
  • Research poster, Undergraduate: Nicholas Dexter, Kara Kruse, Richard C. Ward and James Nutaro (Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Rochester Institute of Technology), “A Hybrid Systems Modeling Approach to Biochemically Induced Cell Migration.”
  • Research poster, Graduate (Applications): Oscar Grandas, Deidra Mountain, Stacy Kirkpatrick and Melinda Klar (University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, Knoxville), “A Hybrid Systems Modeling Approach to Biochemically Induced Cell Migration.”
  • Research Poster, High School: Andrew Pfeifer (Bethel Park High School), “Symmetric Encryption using Artificial Intelligence.”

“All of the participating students demonstrated their knowledge, motivation and commitment throughout the week. These students provide us with tremendous confidence that the future of scientific computing will be in good hands!” said Scott Lathrop, the TeraGrid’s area director for Education, Outreach and Training.