We wrapped up the competition with our traditional Gala Awards Ceremony. This was an exciting show, given that only 40 points or so separated first place from fifth place after the Google GROMACS Challenge and heading into the critical judges interview – which was worth 100 points. So there was quite a bit of suspense among the teams.

With this in mind, we got down to business pretty quickly with a brief discussion of how the competition works and a quick introduction of the teams. We then touched on the mentor organizations (HPE, NASA Ames, Oak Ridge National Lab, AWS, and Google).

Finally a shout out to our beloved sponsors starting with our Platinum Sponsor HPE (also a mentor), then Silver Sponsors Google (also a mentor) and AMD, finishing up with our Bronze tier sponsors AWS (yep, a mentor too), Cornelis, DDN, and Vast. We couldn’t do this competition without their help and want them to know how much we appreciate them.

And then we got to the meat of the competition: the scores. We went module by module, showing the top finishers in each of the five challenges. You’ll notice that the top teams shifted with every new result and that the scores were usually very close.
There are many twists and turns on the leaderboard, but it finally resolved into the first-place team winning by, get this, 0.60 of a point vs. the second place team, the closest finish in cluster competition history. Who came out on top? Watch the video below to see (and, yes, ok, you can skip ahead if you want.)

Phew, what a finish! What a competition! And look at how much these students learned along the way. They worked with five different mentor teams on five different supercomputers and learned six different real-world HPC/AI apps and benchmarks. They did all of this on their own time, managing to work on the competition while being full-time students and holding down jobs outside of school. This is an incredible achievement regardless of how the teams placed on the final board.

These students are good, damned good. Self-motivated, able to learn and pick up things fast, and hungry to work in this industry. In other words, they are perfect new hires for both internships or entry-level full-time positions.

We have a resume book that is chock full of great candidates. If you’re interested, reach out to me, Dan Olds, I’m pretty easy to find. But students this solid? Not so easy to find.

Thanks again to the students, the mentors, and the sponsors. Also a big thank you goes to our media partner HPCwire for helping us spread the news. The Winter Classic will return next year with new enhancements so stay tuned….