By Joyce M. Conant
ARL Public Affairs
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s DOD Supercomputing Research Center hosted a visit for a group of 11th grade students from The Catholic High School of Baltimore on International Women’s Day. Shown are four of the students standing in front of what remains of the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Calculator, or ENIAC. (Photo by Jim Nelson, ARL DOD Supercomputing Resource Center)
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s DOD Supercomputing Research Center hosted a visit for a group of 11th grade students from The Catholic High School of Baltimore on International Women’s Day, March 8.
The 19 young women are enrolled in the school’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM program, and are required to take computer engineering and programming their junior year of high school.
During their visit to ARL, students learned about the history of computing, toured the center’s high performance computer rooms — where “Excaliber” — one of the Army’s fastest supercomputers is hosted, learned about and observed what remains of the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Calculator, or ENIAC, and participated in hands-on demonstrations of some of the center’s scientific visualization technologies.
The ENIAC, completed in 1946, was the first electronic programmable computer built in the United States.
The students observed visualization technologies such as a large CineMassive visualization wall and a mixed reality system known as zSpace. They were introduced to high performance computing and learned how these resources can be used to solve the Army’s challenging research problems.
Amanda Trapani, the students’ teacher and director of technology, believes STEM students should be exposed to the current usage of computing by visiting local organizations, such as the ARL Supercomputer Center, to fully understand how computing affects large-scale business and government operations in the real world.
She said the students were most engaged and excited about the virtual reality technologies presented in zSpace.
Sixteen-year-old Saoirse Bodnar was fascinated by the technology.
“It was absolutely amazing to see how advanced technology is today. I enjoyed the visualization aspect of supercomputing and how data can be projected into the world,” Bodnar said.
Dr. Raju Namburu, chief of the Computational Sciences Division and director of the ARL Supercomputing Center said computer science is the only STEM field where there are more job openings than there are students.
“We want to excite our next generation about the computational sciences and how they can contribute to the future,” Namburu said. “In the next ten years, there will be more than 1.5 million job openings in the computing sector. As part of our outreach program, we know how important it is to host visits for school and college age students.”
As part of the ARL STEM outreach program, the ARL Supercomputer Center is hosting a computer science program. During the two-week academic program, students will be introduced to supercomputing and novel architectures; applications and tools; basic principles of engineering algorithms, programming languages and techniques; and scientific visualization technologies.
Students may apply for the program here. Applications close on April 1, 2017.
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