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Germany's KIT drives hot-shot boffins to Klusterkampf

Carries hopes of a continent into cluster compo

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ISC 2012 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Karlsruhe, Germany is the lone European entry in the ISC'12 Student Cluster Competition. As such, they’re carrying a huge weight on their solid Teutonic shoulders. KIT, as Team Germany, is charged with defending home-country student clustering honour against powerhouse teams from China and the US.

But KIT seems well equipped to meet the challenge. Founded in 1825, it’s one of Germany’s leading science, engineering and technical universities. Mathematics and natural sciences, along with engineering sciences, are the main focus of 74 per cent of its 22,552 student population. Its Steinbuch Centre for Computing (SCC) gives researchers access to several large clusters based on Intel, AMD and POWER processors.

The university boasts a slate of alumni who have changed the world. Some of the most notable:

  • Karl Benz – the inventor of the gasoline-powered automobile.
  • Karl Ferdinand Braun – the inventor of the cathode ray tube (CRT), who built the first CRT oscilloscope. He probably did not invent the Braun line of cooking and household appliances.
  • Heinrich Rudolf Hertz – the guy who discovered electromagnetic waves in 1887 and namesake of the ‘hertz’ measurement of frequency.
  • Edward Teller – the fission and fusion boffin who worked on the hydrogen bomb.

There’s a long list of other illustrious science types who made a lot of other discoveries. KIT alumni have also carved out a solid reputation in IT and business. Almost all of the founders of SAP, for example, are KIT grads.

Absent from this list, however, is any record of a KIT team winning either an SC or ISC Student Cluster Competition. A win here would probably be the capstone event of KIT’s 187-year history; a time when alumni, faculty, and students can sit back and say, “Yes, we’ve finally arrived.” Well, maybe not... but it still would be a feather in their collective (and quite stylish) Alpine hats. ®

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