South African Student Cluster Champs Visit TACC in Austin

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Student Cluster Competitions are a growing movement here in the HPC community, building the next generation of high performance computing professionals is an important part of the mission at TACC. For the second time in as many years, TACC welcomed a new ‘cluster’ of students from South Africa to Austin as they prepare for the ISC’14 Student Cluster Competition this June.

isc14_competitionIn 2012, the ISC convened its first student cluster challenge at its annual meeting in Germany. Modeled on the U.S.-based student cluster challenge at the annual Supercomputing Conference, students from nations including China, Costa Rica, the United States, and South Africa participated. In 2013, the South African team was not only the youngest and first-ever representatives of Africa, but the overall winners of the competition.

Being the first African team to enter last year and winning, I think the motivation for the team was the fact that they liked being the underdogs,” said Vernon Nicholls, the team’s senior advisor from Dell Inc. “These students had a driving force to show the world that this little southern tip of Africa can achieve and excel with the best in the world.”

This year, following a grueling national cluster challenge, a new South African team was formed. To give as many students as possible the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete internationally, the team comprises the four members of the overall winning team, and four of the top competitors from ‘runner-up’ teams. Sponsored by Dell, the newly formed team won a trip to Austin, Texas, in preparation for the upcoming international competition. Nicholls chose to make TACC an essential stop on the Texas itinerary because of the center’s prowess in the student cluster competition world.

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