Skip to main content

Student Cluster Competition

With sponsorship from hardware and software vendor partners, competing student teams design and build small clusters, learn scientific applications, and apply optimization techniques for their chosen architectures in a non-stop, 48-hour challenge.

48-hour hpc-a-palooza

Student Cluster Competition Schedule
Monday–Wednesday, November 18–20, 2024

student cluster

Student Cluster Competition Chair
Dan Dietz, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

IndySCC Vice Chair
Darshan Sarojini, University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Student Cluster Competition (SCC) Applications open March 1, 2023.

SCC Applications

MAR 1, 2024

Applications Open

MAY 15, 2024

Applications Close

JUN 15, 2024

Notifications Sent

teams & Process

Teams are composed of six students, an advisor, and vendor partners. The advisor provides guidance and recommendations, the vendor provides the resources (hardware and software), and the students provide the skill and enthusiasm. Students work with their advisors to craft a proposal that describes the team, the suggested hardware, and their approach to the competition. The SCC committee reviews each proposal, ranks, and selects the team roster for the competition. The requirements for teams, the selection process, and what makes a good proposal are described more completely below.

Team clusters should be able to run the competition’s applications and exercises without exceeding a fixed power limit. More specific details regarding hardware requirements and other rules will be made available by the time team applications open. Refer to the last year’s rule set to get an idea of what the rules will look like for this year; however, power limits and other rules may change.

SCC vs IndySCC

The IndySCC is a virtual companion competition to the SCC that shares many of the same goals. Each year, far more team applications are received than can possibly be brought to the conference. It takes a significant amount of time and effort to put a team together, so the IndySCC was formed to provide additional opportunities for these teams to apply their hard work, gain experience, and come back stronger the next year and make it into the SCC.

Teams applying to the SCC may indicate they would like to be considered for IndySCC if they are not selected to the SCC. Teams who do not indicate they are interested in the IndySCC will not be considered if not selected for the SCC. Indicating you would like to be considered for the IndySCC is not a guarantee to be selected for the competition.

Teams may also apply directly to the IndySCC, without being considered for the SCC. This serves as a lower bar for entry for teams that may not have existing strong vendor relationships or sufficient funding to travel to the conference, or who are looking to gain a footing in the cluster competition world before applying to the SCC. The goal for teams participating in the IndySCC is that they are able to travel to the conference and compete in the SCC in a later year.

The IndySCC is intended for less experienced teams, and final selections will be made considering the strength of the application, motivations as they relate to the goals of IndySCC, and the team’s level of experience within prior cluster competitions.

Application Details

Students, with the guidance of their advisor, will craft a proposal that describes their team, the proposed hardware and software, their approach to the competition, and what they hope to get out of the experience. This proposal is submitted as a team application for review by the SCC committee. The application consists of several prompts detailed below.

Your proposal will describe your team members, their strengths and weaknesses, and how everyone will work together in order to successfully compete. A good proposal will describe how the team members have different strengths and skills (i.e., academic studies and inclusion of non-STEM majors) and how they will work together and contribute to a strong team. This should not be a simple list of each team member’s qualifications–the reviewing committee will want to see how you will work together as a team.

Additionally, you will need to describe your team’s diversity. This does not mean academic diversity, but rather diversity in other areas such as underrepresented groups in your home region and institution. Diversity is relative to where you are from, so it can be helpful to describe what diversity means to your team and institution. You should also describe what efforts you made to recruit a diverse team – this is especially important if your team is not as diverse as you would have liked.

Your applications should describe in detail the hardware you propose to bring, and the software you plan to install (such as OS, resource managers, compilers, etc). A good proposal will provide sufficient detail to the reviewing committee that your proposed hardware and software meet the requirements outlined in the rules, and that you have thought through a plan on how to build and run your cluster. While listing technical specs is important, you should go further and explain how and why the hardware you chose will give your team an advantage.

You will then need to describe the team’s relationship with your institution and vendor. Describe any financial support your institution and/or vendor is providing, such as travel expenses, cluster shipping, meals, etc. You should also describe any training or resources they are providing to help you prepare. It takes a village to build a team, so we want to see that you have a village backing you. 

Next you will describe how your team will prepare for the competition. We are looking for evidence that you have a plan to prepare. This could include things like meeting regularly to work on the cluster, explore topics, practice, attend guest lectures, etc. Mentioning any classes the team members are taking that directly relate to the competition may also be helpful, but be sure to explain how they will benefit the team rather than listing a course catalog. 

Finally, you will describe your team’s educational goals and what your team hopes to gain by participating in the competition. You should be as specific as possible with your goals rather than listing vague high level goals – we want to know what makes your team unique!

support provided

Selected teams receive full conference registration for each team member and one advisor. Each team is also provided with lodging for the students and advisor. As the competition is part of the Students@SC program, students can also participate in mentoring and networking events like the Mentor–Protégé Matching program as well as the full slate of student programming. Travel to the conference, shipping for your cluster, and per diem are not provided.

reproducibility challenge

One of the applications presented to the student teams is the Reproducibility Challenge, in which students attempt to reproduce results from an accepted paper from the prior year’s Technical Program.

Students have the opportunity to interact directly with the paper’s authors as they attempt to reproduce specific results and conclusions from the paper. As part of this challenge, each student team writes a reproducibility report detailing their experience in reproducing the results from the paper. Authors of the most highly rated reproducibility reports may be invited to submit their reports to a reproducibility special issue.

Benchmarks & Applications


The competition begins with a benchmarking period on Monday, prior to the 48-hour competition. Teams will run industry standard benchmarks on their systems in an attempt to get the best score.

Details regarding these benchmarks will be posted during Summer 2024.


There will be several real world applications for the teams to run during the 48-hour competition. A mystery application will also be announced at the start of the competition, so teams must be prepared to evaluate and fit this application into their strategy on the fly. Each real world application will consist of datasets, challenges, performance evaluations, and a judging interview all prepared by expert application judges. Webinars may be provided by the application judges prior to the competition to help you prepare.

Details regarding these applications will be posted in Summer 2024.


The Student Cluster Competition (SCC) was developed in 2007 to provide an immersive high performance computing experience to undergraduate and high school students.

For more information about SCC in past years, including team profiles, photos, winners, and more:

SCC Mystery Application

The SCC is looking for scientific applications from the HPC community that could be used as the SCC Mystery Application. If you have a scientific application that you think would be a great fit for the competition, please consider submitting.

The application should not have export control restrictions, require non-disclosure agreements or other such restrictions, and must have up-to-date documentation. Submissions and selections must be kept confidential until the beginning of the SCC when the mystery application selected will be revealed.

Each submission must list an application owner who will:

  • be responsible for answering questions from the SCC teams,
  • prepare test and input decks for the competition, and
  • be available to serve as judge during SC24.

Applications Open March 1–May 31, 2024

Ready to Apply?

Create an account in the online submission system and complete the form. A sample form can be viewed before signing in.

The submission system will switch to SC24 on November 26, 2023.

If you have questions about SCC applications, please contact the program committee.


A cluster competition with the intent to create a more inclusive and education-focused track of the Student Cluster Competition.

Back To Top Button