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UT’s role as a leader in computing advancements was affirmed again recently as a team of students captured second place at the Student Cluster Competition in New Orleans.

Part of the SC14 Supercomputing Conference, the competition is a real-time, non-stop, 48-hour challenge in which teams of undergraduates, high school students or both assemble a small computer cluster on the exhibit floor and then race to demonstrate the greatest sustained performance across a series of applications while staying under a 3120-watt power limit.


Sponsored by the National Institute for Computational Sciences, or NICS, the UT team—which went under the moniker Team VIBE (Vols in the Big Easy)—dedicated months of their time and effort under the guidance of coaches and mentors learning how to design a system and run and optimize various applications on their cluster.

“Our partnerships with Cray, Intel, NVIDIA, and Mellanox allowed the team to build and tune a highly efficient cluster,” said Paul Peltz Jr., who served as one of the teams two coaches from NICS along with Vincent Betro.

“This was no easy task.”

Despite it being only the second year that UT students have participated in the competition, the team rose from a last-place finish in 2013 to take silver this year, barely being edged out of first.

Members of the team included seniors Ben Olson and Joseph Dorris, juniors Daniel Graves and Chris Muzyn, and freshmen Daniel Barry and Erik Blokland, all six of whom are from the College of Engineering’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

The team came in just shy of the mark set by the University of Texas, which won the event for the third year in a row.

Still, the result left the team excited about the future and about the prospects of a budding rivalry with the “other” UT.

“We’re really looking forward to doing this again next year on their home field in Austin,” Betro said. “We were very proud of our team’s results and extremely pleased with the way they conducted themselves. They were very genial. Everybody at the competition whom I know said they were in the top couple of teams as far as personality and skills.”

For more on the competition, see the full story on the NICS website.