Super Science Students Attend SC14.

Six Australian high school students, from two specialist science schools, attended SC14, the annual International Supercomputing held in New Orleans, USA last week.

SC14 is the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis. SC represents one of the most significant events in the supercomputing calendar, and has a long and successful tradition of engaging the international community in high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis. This year SC launched the HPCmatters campaign to demonstrate the contribution supercomputing makes to society – whether it be through supporting environmental modeling or producing better products and movies.

The students were competitively selected from the John Monash Science School (JMSS) in Melbourne and the Queensland Academy of Science, Mathematics and Technology (QASMT) in Brisbane. Both schools offer outstanding science focused opportunities for their students.

Professor David Abramson, from the University of Queensland, instigated the sponsorship originally for JMSS students in 2011, and extended it to QASMT when he moved from Monash University to the University of Queensland in 2013. “It’s very exciting to see how much the students gain from a conference that is primarily targeting professionals”, he said.

Following earlier attendances at the conference, in 2014 both schools launched a joint project to monitor environmental parameters around their buildings. Even though the project only began a few months ago, they had managed to collect sufficient data to demonstrate a visualization at the Australian HPC booth on the conference show floor. The students gave a brief presentation to booth attendees, and engaged in discussions with delegates from round the world.

The students were accompanied by teachers Alex Gavrilescu from JMSS, and Stephen Blair from QASMT.

Attending for SC for the second time, Blair said “The range of activities is amazing, whether it’s on the show floor or the keynote talks”. Gavrilescu, a physicist by training, said “I am impressed at the applications of computational science to real world problems. I will be using some of this material in the class room when I return”.

The program is financially supported by the Faculty of Information Technology at Monash University and the Research Computing Centre at the University of Queensland, as well as the students.