More than 120 students converged at the Centre for High-Performance Computing (CHPC) National Conference to compete in its annual competitions, with three teams crowned winners of the respective Student Cluster Competition, Cybersecurity Challenge and Student Datathon Challenge.

Dell Technologies is the overall sponsor of the competitions.

“The CHPC competitions show the level of technology talent and expertise that South Africa produces,” says Jason Jenkinson, country marketing manager at Dell Technologies South Africa. “These are the kind of initiatives we must support and grow if we want to create technologies that serve the country and build for the future.

“We’re very proud to sponsor the conference’s competitions and thrilled to see the response. All the students who participated clearly have great talent and skills.”

The CHPC conference also hosted the 9th Student Cluster Competition, 3rd Student Cyber-Security Competition and inaugural Student Datathon Challenge. These are fiercely contested events where teams of undergraduate students from universities across South Africa match their technology, engineering and collaborative skills.

The top teams won prizes including Dell Vostro 5490 Notebooks.

After several gruelling sessions, the winners finally emerged. The Student Cluster Competition was won by a combination of students from the University of Witwatersrand and the University of the Western Cape, with two reserves chosen from the University of Western Cape and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The students are Guy Axelrod, Victoria Bench, Michael Beukman, Sivenathi Madlokazi, Alungile Tshangela and Mikhail Vink. The two reserves are Stephanie Agenbag and Kalreen Govender.

This team will represent South Africa at the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany, in June 2020. South Africa has won this contest several times, including in 2013, 2014 and 2016. Local teams also ranked second in 2015 and 2017, and third in 2018.

The Cybersecurity Challenge was won by a team from the University of Pretoria: Jared O’Reilly, Savvas Panagiotou and Tristan Sander-Hu. The competition ran in two rounds. In the first qualifying round, 416 students, comprising of 125 teams, competed for a place in the final round. There, 12 teams consisting of four members were chosen to participate at the CHPC National Conference.

Students competing in the first Student Datathon Challenge had to showcase how open research data can be used to come up with creative and innovative solutions to some of the country’s problems. Also initiated in June, participants were given training in data science, research data management and Python. Yet the winners weren’t chosen for their technical understanding, but instead whether their solutions were feasible.

The winning team from the University of Johannesburg – Jean Boguo, Kayleigh Slogrove, Alex Dateling and Ruan Spijkerman – will be put in an incubation programme to develop their solution even further.

“The Student Cluster Competition and Cybersecurity Challenge remain important efforts in addressing the skills shortage in cyberinfrastructure, and the Datathon Challenge that was introduced this year brings the element of effectively harnessing cyberinfrastructure by using data manipulation techniques to solve societal challenges,” says Dr Happy Sithole, National Integrated Cyber Infrastructure System (NICIS) Centre Manager.

The Centre for High-Performance Computing’s 2019 National Conference is the annual culmination of South Africa’s high-performance computing efforts. As the proud sponsor for the Cluster Computing and Cyber-Security competitions, Dell Technologies supports the CHPC’s efforts to highlight the next generation of South Africa’s technology trailblazers. It would again like to congratulate all the winners and participants, who are all paving the way for South Africa and Africa’s technology future.