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National round 2023

The 2023 selection round is set to see 10 teams come together to test their knowledge and compete for a chance to compete at ISC’24. The national round takes place from 4 – 7 December at the CHPC National Conference. Watch this space for updates on the event location.  The teams that will be competing in this year’s national round (alphabetical):

Khulisa Academy

We set out to Achieve two objectives regarding configuring and building a cluster, we focused on Linux Networking where objective is to understand network configuration using network manager; dynamic and static assignment of IP addresses; Firewalls and routing including Network Translation; synchronizing time and Secure Shell. The second objective is to get an understanding with working with computer peripherals mainly focusing on internal features such as processors, examining memory and internal storage also networking components.

We have been meeting every other day since the day we received the email. During our meetings we discuss the applications and go through courses on LinkedIn and our mentor has been helping us with practising the operation system installation and building a virtual cluster by using different virtual machines: Ubuntu, Kali Linux and CentOS to name a few, one of our linux facilitator has been very helpful as well. Many communications with our facilitator are done through teams and emails thus we can contact him at any time, as for our mentor, we use a WhatsApp group chat to share relevant information that could be useful in preparing for the competition. We are actively working on shell-scripting as it is a bit of a challenge for us. Individually, we research on our own and then when we come together, we discuss our findings. We have also been watching team building tips on YouTube and trying to do the activities they recommend helping us work better as a team.

Our Team Preparations for CHPC

Throughout the past few weeks since the first round of the competition, we have been putting much of our time into researching about CHPC as whole and understanding components that are needed to build a small-scale cluster. We do recall our last presentation and we have realized that there were certain mistakes that we made and decided to work on them. On weekends we come together as a team and practise our Linux terminal skills and troubleshooting with the help of one of our lecturers Mr Hasting who has experience with Linux Operating system. He’s insights helps us provide clarity and refine our strategies. We have been working together as a team to identify and address skill gaps across the team, trying to conduct research to be well-versed in architecture, components, and functionality.  We try to acquaint ourselves with the application benchmarks outlined in the competition guidelines. We also try to simulate cluster setup and software installation beforehand; this rehearsal helps us pinpoint challenges and streamline processes and train us for pressure situations. We have been practising maintaining composure, clarity of thought, and confident decision-making under stress. Most of all understanding our team dynamics and working together as a team.

 We communicate with students from TUT and other varsities, our mentor included whom have partaken in CHPC competition who are assisting us when it comes to understanding cluster components in seamless communication through platforms like MS Teams. We also partake in online short courses to bolster expertise where needed, in platforms like Linux institute, Bash Scripting LinkedIn learning, Udemy and Alison. We plan to submit the cluster design by next week as needed.

University of Cape Town

Preparation
To prepare for the 2nd stage of the Student Cluster Competition, we all intend to become more familiar with working with Linux and the terminal. We are all planning to go through the tutorials together, making sure we understand all the separate parts, and creating scripts that will be run to configure our cluster. We are curating a list/index of all the important commands and procedures we may be needing to use often during the competition.
In the week between the 4th and 9th of September, we intend to meet with a lecturer and an HPC administrator to assist us with our cluster design. One of the most important ways we are preparing for the next round is by researching how each of the codes given to us in the specification are parallelised, and under which conditions they run the most efficient. This will take up the bulk if our time. This will include
learning how to benchmark (using the UCT HPC) and creating execution scripts to run codes.
We hope to prepare of the competition consistently, allowing us to hopefully feel a lot less stressed when the competition comes around, as most of it will become second nature. We intend on using spaced-repetition and mock tests to achieve this.

University of Limpopo

MMLT | Rathani Rofhiwa Tshivhandekano, Kushete Ernest Mokwena, Lebogang Ledwaba, Annah Cebisile Masombuka.

Mentor | Kamogelo Sithole

Preparations for the national round.

We’re scheduling formal MMLT meetups on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays with Dr Phoshoko, Dr Kgatwane and mentors. These sessions will cover cluster basics, node communication, hardware, scripting, and Linux software usage. We’ll also utilize online resources like YouTube and Udemy. Currently, until September 31st, we’re focusing on team briefings and planning. From August 29th to September 13th, we’ll concentrate on configuring the cluster hardware components, and software utilities for submission to the CHPC.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, we have in-person meetings and joint exercises, while other weekdays are for individual learning. Weekends involve hybrid meetings, either online through Google Meet or Teams, or in-person at the University of Limpopo’s computer labs.

University of the Free State

Each week on Mondays and Tuesdays from 17:00 to 19:00, our head mentor Mr. Albert has been giving lectures to the us as we get ready for the CHPC national competition. Whereas some of us are learning Linux Fundamentals via HBT (Hack the Box) school, we are learning a lot about the fundamentals of Linux, installation, and how to use different platforms like Tabby Terminal.

We have been practicing Linux OS installations on Virtual box and configurations using the resources & tutorials that were provided to us during the selection round.

Following our most recent meeting, we have decided to meet again on Saturdays for three hours so that we may all work on YouTube videos utilizing the instructions given by people like “The Network Chuck (The coffee guy)” and work on researching hardware specifications properly.

We are also exploring several Linux-based platforms to become familiar with their user interfaces and navigational systems.

The online course “computer networks” and NCSA that we have been taking have been beneficial.

We believe that this will help us in the forthcoming national tournament, and we can’t wait for the challenge to start in December!

In preparation for the 2nd round of the competition, We as a team have decided to focus on a few areas. Namely: Feedback from the first round. Mastering of first round content, overall further enrichment of the team.

Feedback

From our original design, we received feedback from the CHPC staff about how we can revisit our networking strategies and hardware used for the betterment of our design. We were also advised on practicing more and familiarizing ourselves with the terminal so that we are able to work faster and more effectively as a team. We were also told to do more research on the application we will be tasked with running so that we understand what type of system we would need to build to run them effectively and efficiently.

Mastering of First Round Content

Given how fast-paced the first round was, we as a team feel that we were not able to all properly acquaint ourselves with the content. And in attempting to avoid getting to the 2nd round without understanding the basics we have decided to, as soon as we have access to the content to go back and restart and complete all tutorials.

Further Enrichment

We have started with taking weekly Organizational & Scientific Computing Infrastructures classes presented by Mr Van Eck who was our university’s mentor the first round. The classes focus on operating systems and basic GNU Linux concepts, resource management with environment modules, text editors (we make use of tabby or PuTTY), networking (open system interconnection model) and how to troubleshoot your network issues in your design as well as Hardware components that are used to set up a network.

We will also be taking online courses (LinkedIn Learning & YouTube) for bash scripting, meeting at least once a week to work on our design, tutorials and the expectations set out for round 2. Finding and working through any relevant content on the internet such as YouTube Videos as well any literature we can find on high performance computing and the application we are asked to optimize for.

We are excited to have made it to the next stage of the competition. We are confident that we can continue to improve our skills and knowledge, and we are committed to doing our best to win.

Plans & Preparations:

  • Practice Linux OS installations: We been practicing installing and configuring Linux operating systems.
  • Stress Management: Recognize that competitions can be intense. Research stress management techniques and encourage open discussions about managing stress
  • Weekly meetings with our mentor to check our progress.
  • Attending weekly lectures about CHPC
  • Practicing cluster configuration on GsN3
  • Meeting once a week as team to plan and ensure members are up to schedule
  • Discussing and consulting on cluster hardware selection
  • Defining Member roles
  • Presentation Skills: Practicing to present to enhance our presentation skill
  • Mock Simulations: We’re planning to conduct mock simulations to simulate competition scenarios. These simulations will help us refine our teamwork, troubleshoot potential issues, and enhance our overall performance.
  • We created a development plan: A development plan will help us to stay on track and to make sure that we are making progress.
  • Regular Feedback from teammates

Unfortunately we were unable to take a picture with our mentor Mr Albert Van Eck,but we added his picture on the left side of our group picture.

University of the Western Cape

Profile of Mujtabaa Suliman:

I am currently studying a BSc Computer Science degree at the University of the Western Cape. Previously studying and completing by a BSc Sports Science degree at UWC back in 2020, I decided on a career change. Computer science interested me when I first started to learn about game development and what it requires of me, that’s when I knew I truly wanted to obtain better understanding of coding, backend development and basic computer science work. It was during my first year that I heard about competition but was never comfortable in the idea of joining a hackathon or computer science competition. During my second year I decided to partake in different events no matter what it entailed, just to learn something new, while also building a network of people in the field. the HPC has taught me things that I never thought of learning, giving me insight into a different side of the field of computer science. By taking part in the competition, I aim to gain knowledge in Linux and different operating systems. With this I know I can say I partook in a competition but also walked away knowing I gained something more valuable in return.

University of the Witwatersrand

Linux OS Installations Practice: In our own time, we each dedicated time to practice Linux OS installations. This hands-on experience bolstered our familiarity with the process, helping us become more efficient in a crucial aspect of the competition.

Collaborative Discussions on Discord: Effective communication is essential. We continued our discussions on Discord, sharing insights, clarifying doubts, and brainstorming ideas. Regular engagement fosters a collaborative environment and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Engaging with Mentors: Their guidance and advice provides us with a well-rounded approach to the competition challenges.

Research and Application Exploration: Researching and exploring various applications relating to the competition allows to find innovative solutions and stay ahead of the curve.

Documentation and Progress Tracking: Keeping track of our progress is crucial. We maintain comprehensive documentation of our activities, ensuring that we can review our journey and make informed adjustments to our strategy.

Mock Simulations: We are building and setting up our own clusters in order to help us identify potential challenges and refine our problem-solving approach. This practice will enhance our adaptability and quick thinking.

Peer Learning: As a team, we bring diverse skills and experiences to the table so we can learn from each other and grow collectively.

Time Management and Weekly Goals: Each team member is given different tasks to complete each week. This disciplined approach ensured we cover all necessary aspects without feeling overwhelmed.