Team Venus '13

Members of University of the Pacific’s Team Venus are interviewed earlier this week during the SC13 Student Cluster Competition at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

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Science and Technology

Pacific’s Team Venus ranks high in international supercomputing challenge

Nov 21, 2013

University of the Pacific's all-female Team Venus today placed second in a competition pitting students against professionals in the supercomputer industry.

"We got second place in the new 'ProAm' professional versus amateur competition, and the team is very excited," Pacific Assistant Professor Jeff Shafer and Team Venus adviser said in an email earlier today. "This was after the 48-hour Student Cluster Competition. We are eagerly awaiting more detailed scoring from the judges to figure out how well we did and how much we improved from last year."

University of Texas, Austin, was the overall winner of the SC13 Student Cluster Competition in Denver and National University of Defense Technology of China received the "Best Linpack Score," but other rankings were not immediately available. Last year's Team Venus, the first-ever all-female team in the student competition at the international meeting of the supercomputing world, came in fourth overall.

Team Venus, a collection of mostly computer science and computer engineering students, is at the Colorado Convention Center for SC13, the 25th anniversary conference.

"It's a very challenging project at the undergraduate level," Shafer said before the team left for the competition. "The concepts the students are learning here are things I really didn't touch on until I was in my Ph.D. program."

In the Student Cluster Competition each team worked with vendor-sponsors using off-the-shelf equipment and over the course of 48 hours set up a small cluster supercomputer. They then operated pre-selected programs that run scientific simulations and measure computer performance of the system. The students had to produce specific visual data, such as 3D animations, to be evaluated by competition judges.

The student competition included teams from University of Tennessee, Knoxville; University of Texas, Austin; the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (A consortium that consisted of Boston University, MIT, Northeastern University, Harvard, and the University of Massachusetts); and the University of Colorado, Boulder. International teams include a joint venture team from several Australian universities, the National University of Defense Technology in China, and the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany.

The competition was "a real-time, nonstop, 48-hour challenge to assemble a computational cluster on the exhibit floor and race to demonstrate the greatest sustained performance across a series of applications," according to the convention program.

Top sponsors and supports included: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which provided mentoring and technical guidance; Cray Inc., which donated a CS300-AC cluster computer and logistics support; One Stop Systems, which provided a novel PCle switch; Intel, which provided CPUs; NVIDIA, which provided Kepler-class GPUs and software; and LSI Corporation for a 3TB storage card.

In today's first-ever Celebrity Pro-Am Cluster Challenge, student teams from the Student Cluster Competition faced off against industry professionals to solve a computational problem set.

This is Team Venus '13:

Kathleen Shoga '16, computer science and computer engineering double major
Lauren Morita '17, computer science and Chinese double major
Jennifer Valencia  '15, computer science
Colette Young  '14, pre-pharmacy, bio sciences major with a computer science minor
Caitlin Hamada '15, computer science
Alicia Wong  '17, computer science

Twitter: and #TeamVenusSC13