Winter Classic Student Cluster Invitational – Winners of Rich Brueckner Scholarships to Be Named Today

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By Dan Olds

Today, Friday May 7, is the 2021 Winter Classic gala awards ceremony, from 4 – 5 pm Pacific Time on a Zoom webinar. Here’s the link. We reveal the winning teams and bestow six $1,000 Rich Brueckner Award Scholarships, named for the late editor-in-chief of insideHPC.

The $6,000 comes from contributions from many generous souls in the HPC community – many of them friends of Rich’s, no doubt – who drove the fund past its initial goal of $5,000.

We’ll also have some HPC dignitaries handing out the awards, including Trish Damkroger (head of Intel HPC), Brent Gorda (cluster competition founder and head of Arm HPC), and Happy Sithole (head of HPC in South Africa and also founder of a cluster competition).

You are all invited to the awards ceremony. You’re also all encouraged to browse our resume board to find your next outstanding intern or full-time entry-level hire.

A review of the cluster competition teams:

We’ve had a fast and furious Winter Classic Invitation cluster competition (although it’s been delayed well past winter!). Our student teams have been clustering themselves senseless for the past week while also undergoing interviews with steely-eyed judges. In short, it’s been a stress sandwich and everyone had to take a bite.

Just before the finals of the competition launched, we had a chance to interview several of the teams. We wanted to ascertain their mood going into the finals and see how they were holding up.

Morehouse College:  The team is loose and having fun when we caught up with them. Attitudes are solid and they have confidence in what they’ve learned. Most of the team has received the Microsoft Surface Go 2, which was a gift to all of the competitors and coaches from Microsoft – one of them is even using the Surface 2 as his webcam – and the quality is damned good, particularly compared to what he was using before….shudders.

Having said that, Morehouse isn’t exactly fully ready for the competition. They were late getting their hardware and haven’t had a chance to run the applications yet. But there is something about these guys that inspires confidence….could it be the new tablets? Maybe.

UTEP Team Itzamna:  If you’ve been following this team, you’ll notice something different about them in the video below. They’ve been on a crash diet and have lost three members in the last few weeks – this makes them a team of only two players, ouch. But, damn, they’ve been working hard and have made a LOT of progress. All of their applications are running happily on the Google cloud and they’re busily optimizing them.

Take a look at the video and learn about what they’ve been doing and the success they’re having. As I point out in the reel, these are exactly the kinds of students who will become excellent employees. They’re self-motivated, they’re quick learners, and they’re extremely dedicated to problem solving.

Florida A&M – University of the Virgin Islands:  The FAMU-UVI team was newly merged when we shot this video. The three members are from two teams that had lost a lot of members over the grueling cluster competition process. In the video, we discuss the responsibilities of the team members and how they’re meshing together.

The students on this team are very solid and we’re expecting good results from them. Their mentors, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, are really helping the team get off the ground. We do have a last-minute change that happened the day before the competition began:  LLNL managed to get the team a new cluster – one with AMD Epyc Rome processors and four shiny Nvidia A100 accelerators – woo hoo…now that’s a cluster. However…, these nodes are just out of the box and will probably need some shaking down before they come up to speed. These will also be totally new clusters to the students, who are already new to HPC. There could be some storm clouds on the FAMU-UVI horizon……

UC Santa Cruz:  We caught up with all five members of the Santa Cruz cluster team. They’re well organized and have divided up the workloads between teammates, which is an important step for every cluster competition team.

In the video, we talk about their progress with the applications and the steps they’re taking to get them running and then their optimization process. The team has a good workflow happening and I’m impressed with their progress at this point in the competition. One thing that’s a little disquieting: the team hasn’t settled on their final hardware configuration yet.