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Computer challenge returns Monday

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More than 200 New Mexico students and their teachers are expected for Los Alamos National Laboratory’s for the 25th annual New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge expo and awards ceremony.
“One of the goals of the year-long competition is to teach student teams how to use powerful computers to analyze, model and solve real-world problems,” said David Kratzer of LANL’s High Performance Computer Systems group, LANL’s coordinator of the Supercomputing Challenge. “Participating students improve their understanding of technology by developing skills in scientific inquiry, modeling, computing, communications and teamwork, and have fun doing it.”
The challenge is project-based learning geared to teaching a wide range of skills, such as research, writing, teamwork, time management, oral presentations and computer programming.
Any New Mexico middle-school or high-school student is eligible to enter.
While at LANL, students will present their projects and take part in tours, talks, and demonstrations with scientists.
Student projects will be recognized during an awards ceremony Tuesday from 9 a.m.-noon at the Church of Christ Auditorium, 2323 Diamond Drive in Los Alamos. More than $20,000 in scholarships will be awarded to student participants, along with many plaques and cash awards.
According to Bob Robey of the lab’s Eulerian Codes Group and Challenge Board president, more than 100 LANL staff members got their start in the Supercomputing Challenge program.
“The Supercomputing Challenge is one of the most effective of the STEM programs in New Mexico, if not the country,” said Robey. “The graduates of the Supercomputing Challenge program provide a talent base to attract high-technology businesses and programs to New Mexico.”
Structural engineer Crystal Rodarte-Romero of LANL’s Engineering Project Delivery Group participated in the Supercomputing Challenge while attending Española Valley High School in 1995.
Her team won the Environmental Modeling Award and was second overall that year.
“It has opened many doors for me,” Rodarte-Romero said of the challenge. “It’s given me exposure to the technical aspects of working with engineers and scientists,” while also firming up her college aspirations and helping her learn how to write reports and speak before large and small audiences.
More information about the event can be found at supercomputingchallenge.org.