Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         CONTACT:
Nov. 3, 1993                                      Steve Eisenberg
                                                  Casey Porto

Minnesota High School Students Using Pittsburgh Supercomputer

PITTSBURGH -- For several years, physics students at a Rochester, Minn., high school have designed soda-bottle rockets that have flown almost 500 feet. But beginning this school year, students at Mayo High School will use a supercomputer to design the two-liter bottle rockets so they could fly even farther, similar to aerospace engineers developing plans for supersonic aircraft.

As one of eight schools selected by the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center to participate in its third annual High School Initiative in Computational Science, Mayo will learn how to use the center's CRAY Y-MP C90 supercomputer. The nation's leading researchers use the same machine to address the most challenging scientific problems, such as global warming, drug design and materials research.

"The program's goal is to generate excitement about science, mathematics, engineering and computer science among high school teachers and students by giving them the resources to work on a project in computational science," said Casey Porto, education liaison at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

Other research projects include developing a three-dimensional model of a skier descending a slope, examining the interaction between human nerve cells, and tracking community energy use during a winter heating season and then providing recommendations for energy conservation.

In mid-August, teacher-student teams from the eight schools attended a week-long workshop at the Pittsburgh center to learn the basic computer skills needed for their projects. Then, throughout the year, center staff will visit the schools. In addition, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and industry will meet with the teacher-student teams at workshops and correspond with them via electronic mail.

The ultimate objective of the program is that the teachers will integrate their projects into the curricula at the respective schools.

"This year and in the future, they will be the ones to involve large numbers of students and fellow teachers," Porto said. Because of the success of last year's program, which involved students from the 8th through 12th grades, some upper-level students now are focusing their college plans on math and science.

For this year's initiative, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center received proposals from Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

Major funding for this year's program comes from the National Science Foundation, with additional funding from the Buhl Foundation.

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, a joint project of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh together with Westinghouse Electric Corp., was established in 1986 by a grant from the National Science Foundation with support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Its purpose is to develop and make available state-of-the-art high-performance computing for researchers nationwide to solve important scientific and engineering problems.


Participating Schools and Their Projects

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