Cadets Compute at UAF

Fairbanks, Alaska -- Caleb Williams and Dave Balcom aren't your usual kind of Alaska tourists. The two West Point Military Academy Cadets arrived in Fairbanks last week to spend the next three weeks intensively learning about supercomputing in an academic environment.

Williams and Balcom will be working with the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center at UAF as part of a coordinated effort by the Department of Defense's High Performance Computing Modernization Office to increase collaboration between military and academic research units.

The two cadets will work with ARSC staff to develop a suite of example programs demonstrating techniques of parallel programming using different computer languages and architectures. Parallel programming is used to solve large computational problems such as ocean modeling, galaxy formation, climate change and a number of other large research projects.

"We are pleased to host such high-caliber students at the center," said Barbara Horner-Miller, ARSC's associate director. "This is a great opportunity for both the center and the cadets."

Caleb Williams, a junior computer science major at West Point and Dave Balcom, a senior computer engineering student, will spend the next three weeks working on ARSC systems and learning from staff, researchers and other students. The two will also have a chance to tour the COPE Thunder facility at Eielson Air Force base, and attend lectures and presentations on the UAF campus.

"I'm excited to come to Alaska, as it has always been a dream of mine," said Williams. "I look forward to seeing what role computer science plays in the 'real world.'"

The cadets will also learn about life at a civilian university, through living in the UAF dorms, and spending time with ARSC's five other summer student interns.

"Like most cadets, I'm curious to see what 'real' college life is like," said Williams. "The day after my Alaska internship I go to a ten-day air assault school, and then back to West Point."

If this program is successful, ARSC hopes to host more cadets in the future. ARSC is part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Department of Defense High Performance Computing and Modernization Program.

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