21 Jul 2011 Leamington Spa - Twenty budding engineers from across the United Kingdom recently took on the challenge of building their own supercomputer from raw components at the University of Southampton. Organised by The Smallpeice Trust and delivered in partnership with the University's Engineering Sciences and Microsoft, the course opened up the eyes of the 16 and 17 year-old students, showing them how computers influence how we live, what we do and where we travel.
During the four-day residential programme in July, students were set the challenge of building a supercomputer from scratch, using components including processors and motherboards. They also designed and built their own aircraft using the Future Flight Greener by Design system, to make them quieter, cleaner and cheaper. The students' designs were put through their paces in the University's state-of-the-art flight simulator.
The course was overseen by world-leading engineers from the Microsoft Institute for High Performance Computing at the University. Students had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing engineers and the career opportunities available in this fast-paced and ever-changing field.
Professor Simon Cox of the University of Southampton explained: "It is a pleasure to show this next generation of engineers how engineering and computing will help tackle the global issues we face today, and these youngsters are certainly the ones who will rise to the challenge. They are highly motivated and enthusiastic and keen to understand the key role supercomputing plays in engineering. We have demonstrated how Cloud Computing with Microsofts Azure service coupled to Windows High Performance Computing Server makes immense computing and data handling power accessible to engineers and scientists to enable them to model, understand and improve the world in which we live and the products they use."
Spokesperson for The Smallpeice Trust, Claire Fisher commented: "Computers are used in much of today's technology and have the power to change the future and make a dramatic impact on everyone's lives. This course has provided some very intelligent and enthusiastic young people, a unique insight into this specific area of engineering. With their interest in this subject ignited, we hope this has given them the drive to go on and pursue a career in this area."
The Supercomputing in Engineering course is run by the independent educational charity, The Smallpeice Trust, as part of an ongoing programme of subsidised residential courses to help young people aged 13 to 18 learn and develop skills in engineering, design, technology and manufacturing. Through running residential courses and STEM enrichment days, The Trust has reached out to 17,677 students across the United Kingdom in the past year.
The new course timetable for 2012 will be launched in the Autumn school term. Places are allocated on a first come, first served basis.