Oak Ridge National Laboratory marks their third year mentoring our student competitors in the Winter Classic student cluster competition. The Oak Ridge competition modules are always, well, different. They don’t ask students to optimize typical HPC applications or benchmarks. Nooo…that would be too easy. At Oak Ridge, they like to throw curve balls.

Their first challenge in 2022, which had the deceptive title “Simplifying the Sky”, was actually a pretty complex task with 3D N-body cosmological stuff. In 2023, they came back with their “Blast Challenge” that had students visualizing an explosion.

For 2024, the Oak Ridge mentors have put together a task that’s highly relevant to most everyone in the world:  drug discovery using Covid vaccine datasets.

In the interview, the Oak Ridge mentor team, including Dan Dietz, veronica Melesse Vergara, Jens Glaser, and Maria, discuss their drug discovery challenge in detail. We get a behind the scenes look at why they decided on this particular workload and how the students coped with it.

If you want to see how the student teams fared vs. the ORNL Drug Discovery Challenge, check out the results show.

We still have quite a way to go in the 2024 competition with challenges from AWS, Google, and the always dramatic judging interviews on the way. Stay tuned…