Pittsburgh Students Are Science Winners at TeraGrid '07

Pittsburgh ninth-graders Shivam Verma and Molly Joyce (second from the left and right respectively) were winners in the TeraGrid '07 student science competition, June 4-7 in Madison, Wisconsin. (l to r) Prabha Shanker Verma, Shivam’s father; Shivam Verma; Pallavi Ishwad, PSC education outreach specialist; Molly Joyce; Edward Joyce, Molly’s father.

PITTSBURGH, June 25, 2007 — Two Pittsburgh ninth-graders, one from North Allegheny High School and one from Fox Chapel Area High School, were prize winners in a science competition at TeraGrid ‘07, the annual conference of the National Science Foundation cyberinfrastructure program, June 4-8 at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin.

A series of three Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) “Jumpstart” seminars from February to mid-March helped to spark the students’ interest in computational science and cyberinfrastructure.

What does “cyberinfrastructure” mean? How does it benefit scientific discovery? How does it affect everyday life? To probe these questions was the aim of “The Impact of Cyberinfrastructure on Your World,” a TeraGrid science competition that invited students to display their creativity and knowledge in papers, posters and videos.

Shivam Verma, a student at North Allegheny, won first prize for his project, “Using a Robot to Maximize Water Sampling Accuracy.” Verma built and demonstrated a water-sampling robot. He is interested in nanotechnology, biotechnology and bioengineering.

Molly Joyce of Fox Chapel won third prize for her project “2021: A Medical Odyssey.” Taking the famous Kubrick film as a model, she produced a video demonstrating what may be possible in medical imaging 20 years from now, including remotely controlled surgery.

The students, who traveled to Madison with their fathers courtesy of TeraGrid, presented their work during a poster session. The awards were announced on June 7. “The conference provided a unique opportunity for the students to interact with scientists and other students and to share their perspectives,” said Pallavi Ishwad, PSC education outreach specialist.

In recognition of their accomplishments, TeraGrid invited both Shivam and Molly to SC07 in November, the annual gathering of scientists and other professionals in high-performance computing from around the world, held this year in Reno, Nevada. There the students will have the opportunity to present their work publicly at TeraGrid's conference booth.

At PSC’s Jumpstart seminars, organized by Ishwad and PSC project manager Laura McGinnis, six students and four high-school teachers from Southwest Pennsylvania learned about computational science and the TeraGrid. “We presented real-world examples of high-end computing and its impact,” said McGinnis, “and gave the students the opportunity to brainstorm and explore topics of interest.”

The Jumpstart materials, said McGinnis, will be distributed to other TeraGrid partners at many U.S. universities and research centers, as part of an exchange program to disseminate best practices. “By leveraging the distributed nature of the TeraGrid partnership,” she said, “sites can impact their local regions more effectively, drawing on experience and expertise that might otherwise be difficult to develop.”

More Information: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07228/809692-54.stm

More information about Teragrid: http://www.teragrid.org

About PSC:
The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh together with Westinghouse Electric Company. Established in 1986, PSC is supported by several federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and private industry, and is a partner in the National Science Foundation TeraGrid program.