This week more than 200 New Mexico students and their teachers gathered together at Los Alamos National Laboratory for the 25th annual New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge expo and awards ceremony. The project-based event, open to high school, middle school and elementary school students in New Mexico, is geared to teaching a wide range of skills, including research, writing, teamwork, time management, oral presentations and computer programming.
In a community big on outreach efforts, the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge shines for providing a unique early opportunity for budding student scientists. Now going strong for a quarter of a century, the annual event has become such a success that New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez proclaimed April 21st as Supercomputing Challenge Day.
This year’s winners and finalists were honored in an awards ceremony on Tuesday, April 21, where $20,000 in scholarships, as well as plaques and cash awards, were presented to the student participants.
First place team: Meghan Hill and Katelynn James
First place went to team 91, comprised of Meghan Hill and Katelynn James from Monte del Sol, for their report, titled “Using a Concentrated Heat System to Shock the P53 Protein to Direct Cancer Cells into Apoptosis.” The team set out to determine whether applying concentrated heat on a cellular level could be an effective cancer treatment. They designed two NetLogo computer models, one to demonstrate how the mutated P53 protein is molecularly altered by heat, and the other to show how efficient nanorobots can apply that heat to kill cancer cells. After testing four temperature variables, their research showed that 13℃ was most promising insofar as having ability to kill the cancer cells without causing harm to healthy cells. This team also won both the technical writing award and the “Agent-based Model using NetLogo Award.”
Second place was awarded to Team 4 from Albuquerque Academy, made up of Carl Cherne, Mark Swiler and Jason Watlington, for their report on “Population Fluctuations in Ecosystems,” and Los Alamos High School team 46, Jovan Zhang, finished third and won the”technical poster award for his report, “Number Theory Applied to RSA Encryption.”
A total of 64 final reports were submitted and every team attending the expo was required to deliver a presentation on their work to a panel of judges. The entire award program can be viewed here.
In the media release highlighting the event, Bob Robey of the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Eulerian Codes Group and Challenge Board president, reported that more than 100 LANL staff members got their start in the Supercomputing Challenge program.
“The Supercomputing Challenge is one of the most effective of the STEM programs in New Mexico, if not the country,” said Robey. “The graduates of the Supercomputing Challenge program provide a talent base to attract high-technology businesses and programs to New Mexico.”
HPCwire congratulates all current and prior participants and acknowledges the many volunteers who dedicate their time, including nearly 100 Los Alamos employees and another 50 individuals from Sandia National Laboratories, universities and business.