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April 23, 2014

New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge Winners Revealed

Tiffany Trader
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The 24th annual New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge took place this week at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, NM. Open to any New Mexico high-school, middle-school or elementary school student, the project-based learning event is geared to teaching a wide range of skills, including research, writing, teamwork, time management, oral presentations and computer programming. This year’s Challenge welcomed more than 240 students, which made up about 70 teams from schools around the state. The winning teams were honored in a ceremony on Tuesday.

“The goal of the year-long event is to teach student teams how to use powerful computers to analyze, model, and solve real-world problems,” said David Kratzer of Los Alamos’ High Performance Computer Systems group, and executive director of the Supercomputing Challenge. “Participating students improve their understanding of technology by developing skills in scientific inquiry, modeling, computing, communications, and teamwork.”

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The top honors went to Eli Echt-Wilson and Albert Zuo from Albuquerque’s La Cueva High School. For their project “Modeling Tree Growth and Resource Use with Applications,” the dynamic duo described a model that simulates deciduous tree growth at the level of individual branches and leaves based on underlying biological processes.

Cole Kendrick of Los Alamos High School was the second place winner. Also a four-time finalist, Kendrick developed a computer model that details the formation and life cycle of classical novae as part of a project called “3D Hydrodynamic Simulation of Classical Nova Explosions.”

The third-place award recognized Ian Rankin, Ahmed Muhyi and Sophia Sanchez-Maes from Las Cruces YwiC (Young Women in Computing) for creating a computational model of the growth dynamics and neutral lipid synthesis of green microalgae. Their project is entitled “Maximize lipid output and biomass production of algae in open pond batch systems for biofuel synthesis.”

More than $40,700 in individual scholarships were awarded at the Supercomputing Challenge Awards Expo on Tuesday at Los Alamos, including $20,000 from the Laboratory’s Computer, Computational and Statistical Sciences Division. All the finalist teams were honored with plaques, a large banner suitable for hanging at their schools and other gifts, including cash awards.

A complete list of all winning student teams is on the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge webpage.