The folks at NASA Ames once again did a bang-up job as a mentor for the 2024 Winter Classic. This is the third time they’ve fulfilled this vital function, and their challenges keep getting better and better.

In their first challenge, in 2022, they had the teams work with the NAS Parallel benchmarks, learning to run and then performance optimize them. In 2023, they tasked the students with learning and wringing performance out of WRF.

This year, they had the students work on NPB-MPI BTIO, a subset of NAS Par. As usual, there were multiple scored components during the NASA competition week, which allows teams to get partial credit for hitting milestones, and also ensures that they don’t leave everything for the last couple of days. (BTW, Sherry Chang put together a killer quiz for the students that made them squirm – but also learn.)

As part of the challenge, student teams had to select a AWS configuration from a long list of alternatives. This meant they needed to understand how BTIO stresses a system and then test various AWS instances to find which would yield the best performance and price/performance.

In the video, we interview the NASA Ames team that put together the challenge, trained the students, and supported them during the week. Particularly noteworthy is Henry Jin, Senior Research Scientist at NASA Ames, and one of the authors of the NAS Parallel benchmarks.

We very much appreciate their enthusiastic help this year, as always. Stay tuned for more team interviews, leaderboard reveals, and just, well, more.