It was a quiet Valentine’s Day evening when I interviewed the UC Santa Cruz team. Since none of us seemed to have any plans, it seemed like a good time to do it.

But there was some good news for the Santa Cruz team – they had just aced the NASA BTIO challenge, adding 100 points to their tally and putting them less than one point behind the leader, the TTU Red Raiders.

In the interview, we talk a bit about the leaderboard, but also dug into their future hopes and dreams. This is definitely a hardware oriented team, with several members expressing a desire to work on next generation accelerators.

So far in the competition their biggest problem has been finding time to meet. None of the challenges to date seem to have presented any, well, challenge. This could all change when they get out of the benchmarks and into the real applications, so stay tuned. If you want to find out more about Team Santa Cruz, here’s their 2024 Winter Classic homepage.