BEAR Challenge 2022 Winners Interview

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BEAR Challenge 2022 was a whirlwind of GPUs, AI and pizza! It was a great opportunity to showcase the computing power of the EPSRC Tier 2 Baskerville HPC system, and have the contestants tackle some real-world problems in Artificial Intelligence with Baskerville’s GPUs. To find out more about the challenges involved, read our BEAR Challenge 2022 blog post.

And the winner is… Bearly Koalified!

Winners Bearly Koalified with their goodiebags
Left to Right: Kate (Lenovo), Carol (ARC Lead), Yanrong Wang, Mantas Birškus, Antonie (Yu-Chi) Huang and Areeb Ayubi from team ‘Bearly Koalified’.

Here is a transcript of the interview with BEAR Challenge winners, Yanrong Wang, Mantas Birškus, Antonie (Yu-Chi) Huang, and Areeb Ayubi, who are all final year Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science students.

Jenny: Congratulations everyone, you are the winners of BEAR Challenge 2022. First question, what made you sign up for BEAR Challenge?

Antonie (Yu-Chi) Huang: Someone invited me, so I think that’s how I got to know about it. I did remember seeing that email, but it wasn’t very clear what it entails.

Jenny: Who was the instigator?

Mantas Birškus: I think he’s not here, yeah there was originally 5 of us… he had some problems and couldn’t attend the second and third day. Well I guess for me, he kinda told me it was for High Performance Computing and we get to explore the supercomputer. I think me and probably others as well thought it’s a great opportunity to get our hands on the supercomputer and see how it works.

Jenny: The next question is: what did you like most about BEAR Challenge overall?

Areeb Ayubi: Oh, I think, for me, would have been the variety. Quite a few different puzzles were covered over the space of three days. I definitely think I needed much more time to really understand the mechanics of what actually happens in the background.

Antonie (Yu-Chi) Huang: It’s not like we’re doing an assignment where you try to figure out most of what you’re doing and instead the trying to do just make sure it works in the shortest time possible and I think that’s different.

Jenny: What did you like least about the BEAR Challenge? 

Yanrong Wang: Yeah, so I think some of them are like a bit too simple. Like you can make the question more challenging like, for example, making teams compete for accuracy or timing, that kind of thing. Yeah the deep learning part, we can do more about that challenge.

Jenny: What do you think was the secret to your team’s success? Was there anything about your previous learning or something from your courses that actually helped you during the challenges, or was it something else?

Mantas Birškus: Maybe the diversity of skills. Like for example, Areeb was really good at Day 1, that’s what I noticed, and then Antonie understood most of the challenge on Day 3. It’s just like, I guess, teamwork and coordination.

Jenny: Was this event helpful for thinking about your future careers after uni? Did it help you develop some transferable skills? Or was it more useful for learning about some of our partners that we invited to the event, like NVIDIA and Lenovo?

Yanrong Wang: Yeah it was more like a working environment than a uni environment. Sometimes in work you need to learn things fast and do things fast. Then, make them better later. You need to learn how to coordinate with other people and things. I learned a lot from NVIDIA which is a company that I like.

Antonie (Yu-Chi) Huang: Yeah I think if I was in second year or first year it paints a really clear picture of what industry is like.

Jenny: Would you recommend this event to others? What would your advice be to future contestants? 

Areeb Ayubi: Oh, I think one piece of advice for me would definitely be try to have a team with a diverse set of skills. I guess the challenge attracted computer science people who are studying artificial intelligence, but I think people studying engineering or physics, or I guess from masters, could definitely join.

Mantas Birškus: Yeah I would say it’s important for whoever joins to consider their programming skills. Some of the challenges get really tight on time so it’s really important to understand what’s going on in the code.

Jenny: This is a final question for everyone, so… if you could sum up BEAR Challenge in three words what would they be?

Areeb Ayubi: Diversity, prepatory and teamwork. Teamwork was definitely, extremely helpful, prepatory because I think BEAR Challenge can be helpful in job interviews.

Antonie (Yu-Chi) Huang: I think how important cooling is I guess. I remember in the talk from Lenovo about putting the whole PC in oil. When I was in secondary and watched a Linus Tech Tips YouTube video of them actually having a PC that does that and at the time, that was the state of the art. And now he [Lenovo] was saying that’s not enough even though that was five years ago, it’s not that long.

Jenny: So your three word response would be cooling, cooling, cooling?

Antonie (Yu-Chi) Huang: *chuckles*

Mantas Birškus: Personally, so many words, I guess, I would say opportunity to explore the supercomputer. I think everyone should take it, it’s a good opportunity to see how it’s like to connect to a supercomputer.

Yanrong Wang: Mine would be coffee, diversity and supercomputers. 

Jenny: So you needed a lot of coffee to power yourself then?

Yanrong Wang: To get up, yeah. 

Jenny: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I really enjoyed watching your team over the 3 days and seeing you really get stuck into the challenges. Hope you are enjoying your shiny new tablets, and all the best for your future.

Antonie (Yu-Chi) Huang: It was a good ending for our whole 3 years at uni, it was the last uni-related thing we did together.

The organisers of BEAR Challenge 2022 would like to thank our partners OCF and NVIDIA for their support, and special thanks to Lenovo for donating tablet computers for the winning team.