Talented students learn about technology, teamwork

Jul 6, 2010


VIDEO: An Upper Arlington High School student, Tom Shkurti, discusses his OSC Summer Institute experience and the Obstacle Avoidance Roomba Project.


VIDEO: An Alexander High School teacher, Jenny Lang, discusses how OSC's Summer Institute and Young Women's Summer Institute prepare students for careers in science and technology.

OSC SI Students at CARCourtesy: Ohio Supercomputer Center
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OSC Summer Institute students visit OSU's Center for Automotive Research (CAR).

OSC Summer Institute students at OSUCourtesy: Ohio Supercomputer Center
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OSC Summer Institute students visit OSU's High Energy Density Physics research group and the Science Center for Advanced Research on Lasers and Engineered Targets in the Department of Physics.

Summer Institute teaches STEM basics to future tech experts

Columbus, Ohio (July 6, 2010) – Four teams of talented high school students just completed two weeks of intensive study at Summer Institute, where they searched for new comets, programmed for obstacle avoidance, enhanced a virtual surgery application or researched cellular communication.

The 21st class of students graduated from Summer Institute (SI) during the annual residential STEM enrichment program of the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), held June 20-July 2, 2010, on the campus of The Ohio State University.

Throughout their two-week stay, sixteen high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors from across Ohio conducted university-level research on OSC supercomputers, interacting with scientists who provided tours of their labs and assisted with sponsored research.

“The Summer Institute students are now part of a successful international community of professors, company owners, and world-renowned thinkers,” said Jim Giuliani, SI director. “We were amazed at how wonderfully inquisitive and enthusiastic this year’s students were in developing new approaches to problems.”

Working in four project teams, the students solved practical, yet complex, science and engineering problems. In the process, they developed and applied fundamental computing skills in areas such as programming languages and techniques, operating systems and visualization. SI participants also learn how to work with each other in various team-building activities.

“I understood programming before, but in abstract terms,” said Tom Shkurti, a participant from Upper Arlington High School. “Learning what an algorithm does in the real world was something of a new experience for me and an enlightening one.”

During a final ceremony, the students presented their findings to parents, staff and researchers, based on the following projects:

  • Comet Search Project. The team wrote a program to process NASA satellite images to identify and track comet movement.
  • Obstacle Avoidance Roomba Project. The team reprogrammed a common, high-tech household appliance to auto-navigate around a set of obstacles.
  • Medical Image Visualization Project. The team rendered a temporal bone and optimized block sizes for performance and realism using GPU Raycasting and CUDA programming.
  • Biomedical Cellular Organization Project. The team determined how cells communicate with each other and with collagen fibers to grow new tissue.

Through OSC’s Ralph Regula School of Computational Science, OSC provides a variety of education programs to encourage student interest in science, technology, engineering and math careers. This year, more than 50 K-12 students will participate in these programs, which include SI, Young Women’s Summer Institute for middle school girls, the Choose Ohio First bioinformatics program and internships for nearby Metro High School students.

“In this ever more complex global and knowledge economy, those who embrace new technologies will be those who will succeed and lead tomorrow,” said Steve Gordon, OSC interim co-executive director, during the final ceremony. “We at OSC believe Summer Institute provides talented students a rare opportunity to further develop interests in both technology and learning.”

SI 2010 was sponsored by AMD and NVIDIA, multinational makers of semiconductors and related technologies. The program also received support from the NSF Cyber Physical Systems Program grant to Ohio State University on Autonomous Driving in Mixed-Traffic Urban Environments, and the NSF Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI) Program to the Department of Biomedical Engineering at The Ohio State University.

Since the program’s inception in 1989, hundreds of Ohio students have participated in SI’s unique learning opportunity. For more information on this year’s program, including video and project details, visit the SI website at http://www.osc.edu/SI.

EDITORS: The following identifies the students selected for SI. The list is arranged by last name and identifies the high school each attends and his or her hometown.
Kevin Beaulieu, Columbus Academy, Columbus
Josh Blau ,Columbus Torah Academy, Columbus
Sean Bush, St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland
Brendan Corcoran, Sycamore High School, Cincinnati
Katie Daehn, Upper Arlington High School, Upper Arlington
Benjamin Fair, Hilliard Darby High School, Hilliard
Sunny Feng, Dublin Jerome High School, Dublin
Matias Grotewold, Upper Arlington High School, Upper Arlington
Gaurav Idnany, Westlake High School, Cleveland
Austin Kochs, The Metro High School, Columbus
Sophia Li, Lakota East Freshman, Liberty Township
Gautam Machiraju , Dublin Scioto High School, Dublin
Siddharth Machiraju, Dublin Scioto High School, Dublin
Vinny Moser, Strongsville High School, Strongsville
Tom Shkurti, Upper Arlington High School, Upper Arlington
Marisa Supanich, Strongsville High School, Strongsville