Winter Classic Student HPC Cluster Competition Closes with Awards and Rich Brueckner Scholarships

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By Dan Olds

The first annual Winter Classic Cluster came to a thrilling conclusion Friday afternoon with the Gala Awards Ceremony, hosted on Zoom. This was the culmination of a several months work by the students to learn how to use vendor-supplied clusters, run real world HPC benchmarks and applications, and then optimize those workloads to get the fastest performance possible.

This competition exclusively reached out to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and featured nine teams in the final competition. Each student team was provided with compute resources by their mentoring organization. Mentors included Google, Dell, Intel, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Microsoft, HPE, and AMD.

Extra assistance was provided by the HPC AI Advisory Council, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and BioTeam – who served as our HPC Seal Team to help student get their systems and apps running. We’re going to meet some of these mentors in upcoming video features, so stay tuned for that.

In addition to first, second, and third place awards for the teams, the competition also gave out six $1,000 Rich Brueckner Award scholarships to the three most outstanding male and female competitors. Special guest presenters Patricia Damkroger, VP of Intel’s Data Center Group, and Brent Gorda, Senior Director for HPC Business at Arm, handing out the scholarships for the female and male winners, respectively.

Dr. Happy Sithole, Center Manager for the National Integrated Cyber-Infrastructure at South Africa’s CSIR-NICIS organization, presented the team awards.

Please watch the video below to take in the awards ceremony in all of its glory. In addition to announcing the awards, the video includes a brief rundown of all the teams and the challenges they faced in the competition – plus their achievements as well. It also has a heaping helping of good-natured sniping between the host and panelists. Suffice to say that a good time was had by all.

Here’s a recording of the awards ceremony:

Here’s quick rundown of who won what:

  • Team Award, Overall Champion: University of Houston
  • Team Award, Second Place: University of Texas, El Paso, Team Itzamna
  • Team Award, Third Place: University of California, Santa Cruz

We’d also like to recognize the teams that did particularly well on the applications and benchmarks.

  • Highest LINPACK:
  • Highest HPL:
  • Best Score, Gromacs:
  • Best Score, LAAMPS
  • Best Score, NAMD:
  • Best Score, OpenFOAM:

The winners of the Rich Brueckner Award $1,000 scholarships include:

  • Jackie Garcia, University of Santa Cruz
  • Nazanin Behesthi, University of Houston
  • Airam Flores, University of Texas, El Paso
  • Aaron Brown, Prairie View A&M
  • Christopher Murphy, University of the Virgin Islands
  • Suyash Bakshi, University of Houston

Highest LINPACK:

  • Third Place:  UC Santa Cruz
  • Second Place:  University of Texas, El Paso, Team Itzamna
  • First Place:  University of Houston

Highest HPCG:

  • Third Place:  University of Houston
  • Second Place:  University of Texas, El Paso, Team Itzamna
  • First Place:  Florida A&M + University of the Virgin Islands

Gromacs Results:

  • Third place:  UC Santa Cruz
  • Second place:  UTEP, Itzamna (and it was close!)
  • First place:  University of Houston

NAMD Results:

  • Third place:  UC Santa Cruz
  • Second place:  Florida A&M + UVI
  • First place:  University of Houston

OpenFOAM Results:

  • Third place:  University of Houston
  • Second place:  UC Santa Cruz
  • First place:  University of Texas, El Paso, Team Itzamna

LAAMPS Results:

  • Third place:  Florida A&M + UVI
  • Second place:  University of Texas, El Paso, Team Itzamna
  • First place:  University of Houston

 Judge Interview

  • Third place:  UC Santa Cruz
  • Second place:  University of Houston
  • First place:  UTEP, Itzamna

To get a better feel for this competition, take a look at the website. While you’re there, be sure to check out our fantastic student participants on the Resume Board. Also get a gander at our slate of industry-leading mentor organizations and the HPC heavy hitters on our Advisory Board.

With the 2021 Winter Classic Invitational now in our rearview mirror, it’s nearly time to start work on the 2022 edition of the competition. This one will actually take place in winter, February to be more specific, and will continue its focus on HBCU and HSI universities.

If your organization would like to sponsor a team, or if your HBCU or HSI would like to put a team together to join the competition, please reach out to me (Dan Olds), I’m pretty easy to find.

And, once again, we’d like to thank all of the organizations who helped make this possible. That includes the mentors, the schools, and, most of all, the students.