Boston University’s Student Cluster Challenge (SCC) team had never competed at the international contest before last November, but that didn’t prevent them from earning high marks at the Supercomputing Convention (SC11) in Seattle.
As part of the competition, eight teams made up of six undergraduates or high school students were asked to design a computer hardware and software network to demonstrate sustained performance in a series of science and engineering challenges.
The BU team received the judges’ highest score but was edged out for the overall prize by the reigning champions from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan.
Over a span of five days, the contest challenged the BU team both mentally and physically. Tasks included solving a set of problems using background knowledge from science and engineering. To prepare, the team worked with faculty and staff inside and outside of BU to learn and refine high-performance computing (HPC) techniques.
“The SC11 Student Cluster Competition provided us with an amazing opportunity to probe the HPC community both in an academic and professional setting,” said team member, Dusan Stosic (Physics ’14). “Teams were given hands-on projects to design and build their own clusters and solve complex problems requiring massive computing power.”
BU’s team, sponsored by Silicon Mechanics, a HPC provider, and the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering, was made up of six students – Michael Abed (ECE ’14), Richard T. Black (ECE ’13), Derek J. DaSilva (CS, SMG ’12), John-Nicholas Furst (ECE ’13), and twins, Dusan and Darko Stosic (both Physics ’14). Dan Kamalic, manager of research computing in the College of Engineering, is their coach.
Last April, Kamalic helped form the BU team after he assisted the Louisiana State University team at the SC10 convention.
“It was so much fun and such a great experience for the students that I decided that BU had to have a team for SC11,” said Kamalic.
After Kamalic recruited Electrical & Computer Engineering Professors Roscoe Giles, Richard Brower, and Martin Herbordt to help advise the group, the BU SCC team debuted. After their first competition late last year, the team hopes to come back for SC12.
The team is looking for more undergraduate team members, as well as more faculty and staff advisors from various fields to help the team prepare. If you’re interested in learning more about the BU team, please visit their Student Cluster Competition page. You can also read the competition rules.
-Samantha Gordon (COM ’12)