Ohio Supercomputer Center Grooming Next Generation of Scientists

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Jul 21, 2005) — 

The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) will be graduating a group of 15 high-school scientists on Friday July 22, 2005 as part of its 17 th annual Summer Institute, "SI 2005: Supercomputing to Infinity and Beyond."

Since 1989 OSC has been preparing future technology leaders by offering a two-week intensive program that gives academically-gifted Ohio high school freshmen and sophomores a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the dynamic fields of high performance computing (HPC) and networking using some of the world's best supercomputers.

Fifteen freshman and sophomore students were chosen this year from cities throughout Ohio including Canton, Cincinnati, Gates Mills, Fairfield, Westerville, Beavercreek, Dublin, Silver Lake, Hudson, and Dayton. Students who meet the Ohio Administrative Code criteria for gifted students are eligible to apply to the OSC Summer Institute.

"As the best students in Ohio, the SI students are smart, engaged, inquisitive, and they amaze all the OSC staff who work with them," said Stan Ahalt, OSC Executive Director. "These kids make you feel confident about the future--they understand the underlying science, and are amazingly adept at both using and adapting new technologies."

The final ceremony will take place Friday July 22 starting at 11:00 a.m., with a keynote speech by Dr. Bruce Aronow, a Genetic Pediatric Researcher at the University of Cincinnati Children's Hospital. The Keynote Speech will be followed by SI participants' group presentations on their computational projects. A reception at 1:00 p.m. will finish the program.

Working in small groups with the guidance of OSC staff, SI students learn about everything from computational chemistry and mechanical engineering, to astrophysics and bioinformatics, all while applying newly learned programming and visualization skills.

"These kids decided to pursue the most computing-intensive projects than ever before with real-world applications. These kids are doing college graduate level computing research in just a two-week period," said Elaine Landwehr, OSC HPC Coordinator.

OSC employs a faculty of experts in the fields of high performance computing (HPC) and related sciences to teach students fundamental computing topics such as programming languages (C, C++, VRML, and Fortran), operating systems (UNIX), parallel processing techniques, and visualization. Other speakers include experts in astronomy, geology, paleontology, biology, and other related topics.

OSC Summer Institute is not just about spending time in the classroom. Students enjoy a day of learning about team building, while navigating obstacle courses at the Adventure Education Center at OSU. Other field trips with a science spin have included visits to OSU's Nuclear Reactor Lab, Wetlands Research Park, MRI Research Lab, Perkins Observatory, Hologram Lab, Biodynamics Lab, and Aero and Astro Research Lab. Students also get a taste of campus life by living and dining in the OSU dormitories.

Taylor Killian, a 17 year old from Westerville, Ohio, says he loves computers and has been working with them since he was 12 years old. Taylor says his experience at the OSC Summer Institute will give him an advantage as he completes high school and enters college. He starts his junior year at Westerville North High School this fall.

"It's been really fun, and we got to experiment with so many things here that most people can't even imagine and they're all using supercomputing to create these things," Taylor said. They showed us so many different career opportunities in the computer science field and how we can use what we've learned here to help us in the future. I definitely want to have a career in computer science."

OSC's HPC Coordinator Elaine Landwehr said both the students and teachers participating in Summer Institute will take what they learn back to their home schools and apply that knowledge to further instruction.

"Even the recent US Deep Impact Space Probe that collided with the Tempel-1 comet on July 4 produced a lot of interest in our students, who were searching for comets themselves while at SI. These are definitely the technology leaders and inventors of the future," she added

Fun and learning at SI is not limited to students. OSC invites select Ohio high school teachers to participate in this unique program. Teachers learn and work along side students on the group projects. SI gives teachers and students the opportunity to work collaboratively in a challenging and supportive environment.

Two Ohio high school teachers are participating in SI-2005: Richard Jurtz, a Math teacher from Bellfountaine, and Debbie Piper, a Computer Science teacher from St Ursula girls' school in Cincinnati. Piper leads the Computer Club at St. Ursula as an extra-curricular activity for students. Piper said the program helps spark interest in science and engineering among the female students who attend.

Seventeen-year-old Amy Liu attended Summer Institute in 2004, and was asked to return as a "student helper" for the 2005 session. Amy will be a senior this fall at Hoover High School in North Canton. Amy said very few girls take computer science classes at her school.

"Last year was the first I had ever had any practical experience using computer science, and I really liked working with the supercomputer because it's so powerful. This fall I'm going to take my first high school computer science class, and I think my experience at OSC will put me ahead of other students because I've already used the things that I'll be learning as a senior," Amy said.

For more extensive information about OSC's Summer Institute visit the SI website at http://www.osc.edu/SI. For information about Summer Institute 2006 contact Elaine Landwehr at (614) 292-0890, or send email to si-contact@osc.edu,

About OSC
OSC is Ohio's high performance computing, networking, and research center. The Center provides scientific computing, networking, educational outreach, and information technology resources to state and national high performance computing and networking groups. OSC empowers its academic, industrial, and government partners to make Ohio the education and technology state of the future. More information on OSC can be found at www.osc.edu.