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La Cueva High School team takes top award in 24th New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

Eli Echt-Wilson and Albert Zuo from La Cueva High in Albuquerque won the top award at the 24th New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge.
April 22, 2014
Albert Zuo, left, and Eli Echt-Wilson of Albuquerque La Cueva High School with their poster. They won the top award at the 24th New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Albert Zuo, left, and Eli Echt-Wilson of Albuquerque La Cueva High School with their poster. They won the top award at the 24th New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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“The goal of the yearlong event is to teach student teams how to use powerful computers to analyze, model, and solve real-world problems, said David Kratzer.

Modeling Tree Growth and Resource Use with Applications

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., April 22, 2014—The dynamic duo of Eli Echt-Wilson and Albert Zuo from La Cueva High in Albuquerque, proposed a unique model that simulates deciduous tree growth at the level of individual branches and leaves based on underlying biological processes. Their project, called Modeling Tree Growth and Resource Use with Applications won the top award at the 24th New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge Tuesday at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“The goal of the yearlong event is to teach student teams how to use powerful computers to analyze, model, and solve real-world problems, said David Kratzer of Los Alamos’ High Performance Computer Systems group, and executive director of the Supercomputing Challenge. “Participating students improve their understanding of technology by developing skills in scientific inquiry, modeling, computing, communications, and teamwork.”

Second place winner and four-time finalist winner, Cole Kendrick of Los Alamos High School developed a computer model to investigate the formation and life cycle of classical novae. His project is called 3D Hydrodynamic Simulation of Classical Nova Explosions.

Third place winners Ian Rankin, Ahmed Muhyi and Sophia Sanchez-Maes from Las Cruces YWiC (Young Women in Computing) created a computational model of the growth dynamics and neutral lipid synthesis of green microalgae. Their project is entitled Maximize lipid output and biomass production of algae in open pond batch systems for biofuel synthesis.

A complete list of all winning student teams is on the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge webpage. Read all the student reports online.

The Supercomputing Challenge is open to any New Mexico high-school, middle-school or elementary-school student. More than 240 students representing 70 teams from schools around the state spent the school year researching scientific problems, developing sophisticated computer programs, and learning about computer science with mentors from the state’s national laboratories and other organizations. All the finalist teams received plaques for their schools, a large banner suitable for hanging at their schools and other gifts.

More than $40,700 in individual scholarships were awarded at the Supercomputing Challenge Awards Expo on Tuesday at Los Alamos, including $20,000 from the Laboratory’s Computer, Computational and Statistical Sciences Division. Many other awards range from random $100 gifts for finishing the academic marathon to teamwork, research, logo for next year and teacher appreciations.

The Supercomputing Challenge is sponsored by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Security, LLC. A complete list of sponsors and supporters of the Challenge is on the website.

About the Supercomputing Challenge

Founded in 1990, the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge is a nonprofit educational organization that sponsors an annual computational science competition for middle and high school students in New Mexico.

Since its inception, the Supercomputing Challenge has engaged more than 9,000 New Mexico students in computational science projects that prepare them for future endeavors in many science and high-technology fields, and past participants have succeeded in private industry and national laboratories. Major funding for the Supercomputing Challenge comes from national laboratories, local and national businesses, and individual donors.

See a participation map for an effective visualization of the statewide program.

About Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.


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