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Welcome to the Super-Crunch: Raytheon Sponsors Winning Students at Supercomputing Competition

The six members of the University of Texas at Austin team stood tall on stage – beaming with pride and flashing the "Hook ‘Em Horns" sign – after winning the Super Computing (SC13) Student Cluster Competition in Denver. The team was sponsored by Raytheon's Intelligence, Information and Services (IIS) business.

Living on snack food, pulling all-nighters, and still juggling homework and school projects, the undergraduates participated in the real-time, nonstop, 48-hour challenge that took place Nov. 18-20. They assembled a computer system and set it to work crunching weather data, running nanotechnology simulations and tackling other demanding programs. They were forced to react quickly to unexpected challenges and problems as they raced to complete their tasks.

The competition was part of SC13 – the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis. The UT team competed against seven other teams from the United States, Germany, China and Australia.

Discussing competition plans with advisors, Sunday Nov 17th. From left to right - Zachary Tschirhart (student), Julian Michael (student, team lead), Jim Given (student), Suvamsh Shivaprasad (student, sitting), Reid McKenzie (student, sitting), John Cazes (mentor), Andrew Wiley (student advisor)

"This competition helps teach students about computational science and how to push it forward," said Craig Stair, IIS senior principal systems engineer. "There is a need not only in our (defense) industry, but it can be applied to others. Automobiles and airplanes are now designed by computers."

Even before the starting bell rang at the Exhibit Opening Gala, the teams were assembling, testing and tuning their machines. They ran benchmark software to check each computer's speed.

Then, at the start of the competition, they assembled a small computer cluster on the SC13 exhibit floor and raced to demonstrate and correctly complete a series of applications. In addition to crunching weather data, running a nanotechnology simulator and operating machine-learning software, the teams tackled a "mystery application" to simulate flying snakes in South Asia.

Kicking off competition, Monday Nov 18th. From left to right - Eric Dawson (student), Jim Given (student), Reid McKenzie (student).

Carlos Rosales-Fernandez, team lead and a research scientist in the Texas Advanced Computing Center's High Performance Computing group, said, "The students put a lot of work into studying the applications before the competition, which gave our team an edge. They did a great job of working out the best execution strategies for the applications while also communicating with other teams."

Teams received points for system performance; the quality and precision of their results; and interviews with contest judges, who assessed how well the students understand their systems and workloads.

The winning UT team was recognized at a SC13 Awards Ceremony luncheon following the competition.

"Raytheon is proud to support these truly exceptional students and honored to be a part of supporting their success and our relationship with UT and the Texas Advanced Computing Center," said Nick Troutz, a business development manager at Raytheon IIS. "These students are some of the brightest, most determined students in the world and are going to go on to do amazing things. We want to encourage more undergraduates to study high performance computing."

High performance computing is a niche among the STEM fields. U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Defense and National Science Foundation, are providing resources to help build the next generation workforce of high performance computer users.

For more info on SC13, visit http://sc13.supercomputing.org/

Last Updated: 10/27/2014

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