2021 Winter Classic Cluster Competition – The Next Five

By Dan Olds

April 5, 2021

It’s finally time to meet the rest of the field in the increasingly misnamed “Winter Classic Invitational Student Cluster Competition.” Covid has played hell with our schedule and really made it difficult for the teams and mentors to get organized. But we are moving forward despite the stupid virus, which is a testament to the level of commitment from the teams and their mentors.

We met the first five teams in this fantastic article, penned by our associate Jessi Lanum, now it’s time to meet the rest of the entrants.

Morehouse College:  This is one of the most prestigious HBCU’s in the country and we’re very glad to have them in the Winter Classic. The students have a broad range of experience, with most of them signed up to a Morehouse HPC class, which we discuss in the video. One of the students even attempted to build his own cluster out of old PCs, which is very cool, but he didn’t have knowledge about MPI, which put him at a distinct disadvantage. Another student is all about quantum computing while others are interested in cybersecurity. Microsoft and Intel are mentoring the team and helping them figure out the ins and outs of HPC. Check out the video to get to know these ambitious students.

 

Prairie View A&M University:  We talked to four students from Team Prairie View, one a Ph.D candidate who is deeply interested in cybersecurity, another Ph.D who specializes in cyber, plus wireless comms. The third and fourth students, Master’s candidates are also, not surprisingly, involved in cybersecurity as well. But these students are tossing it all aside to learn about HPC through this competition. The thrilling world of HPC is sure to snare them in its beguiling arms. The team is confident that they’ll be able to learn HPC quickly, given their advanced academic standing. Team Prairie View is being mentored by a host of organizations including Dell, AMD, the HPC AI Advisory Council, and BioTeam – our Special Forces when it comes to HPC education.

 

University of Houston:  This is a small team with only three students but is jam packed with HPC knowledge skills. All three students are Ph.D students. All three students have worked with HPC in the past and want to make it their careers to some extent. This is definitely one of the power teams in the tournament, much like the Phi Slama Jama Houston Cougars of the early 1980’s. (Millennials, look that one up, I’m not going to explain it.) This is a confident team, and why shouldn’t they be, this competition is right up their alley. Mentored by Google, this is probably the team to beat in the Winter Classic. But then again, the Cougars were beat by a plucky NC State team, so anything could happen.

 

University of Texas, El Paso – Team Itzamna:  So who or what is Itzamna? For those of you not up on their Mayan mythology, Itzamna is the Mayan god of wisdom – which is a good name for a student cluster competition team, right? This is an all electrical engineer team, specializing in computer design, which isn’t exactly taking the easy way out of college. While they aren’t incredibly deep in HPC, they do have some advanced computing experience. Using systems provided by team mentor Google, the team is going to get up close and personal with HPC clusters. It’s a fun team with lots of personality, check out the video to get a better feel for them.

 

University of Texas, El Paso, Team 2:  This is our mystery team. Our emails pleading for a video meeting went unanswered, so we don’t know much about them. It’s a smallish team with just a handful of students. Microsoft and Intel are mentoring the team, that I know for sure. We’ll have to wait until the next round of interviews before we know more.


So that completes the field for the first annual Winter Classic cluster competition. Next up, we’ll talk to the coaches and then the team mentors. Stay tuned!

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