Riverton Middle School student names new supercomputer in statewide contest

    (Riverton, WY) – It was officially announced today that Riverton Middle School 8th grader Cael Arbogast, 13, won a statewide competition to name one of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

    The winning name, Derecho, is for the new system currently being installed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) in Cheyenne.

    It was selected out of more than 200 submissions from Wyoming K-12 students as part of a naming competition that NCAR conducted in partnership with the Wyoming Department of Education and the Wyoming Governor’s Office.


    “I picked this name because a derecho is an intense, widespread, and fast-moving windstorm that travels long and great distances bringing many storms with it,” Cael wrote with his submission. “This new supercomputer has to move at fast speed for everybody to use all across the country. I thought this name would be a good fit provided that lots of scientists and others will be using this computer all across the country and for weather all throughout the world.”

    According to NCAR program director Dr. Everette Joseph, he “instantly recognized” Derecho as a great name, and is also excited that Cael will “get to see his name in thousands of science journals and publications for years to come.” He also plans to invite Cael to the first day of Derecho’s operation upon it’s completion.

    “Our school and community are beyond proud of our student, Cael, for being selected for this prestigious honor,” said Aziz Waheed, the principal of Riverton Middle School. “To be able to name one of the fastest supercomputers for the National Center for Atmospheric Research is not something many people in the world can say they have done.” 

    The recognition will also put a spotlight on education throughout the state, with Jillian Balow, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction, commenting “Achievements like this help create credibility to get the funding and support needed to get projects like NCAR and Derecho to life. I am so proud of Wyoming. Our K-12 schools ensure all students have access to computer science classes now.”


    Balow also stated, “Hats off to Cael and the NWSC. Derecho is similar to a ‘perfect storm’ and that’s what we have here. Cael and his classmates have the opportunity to learn computer science in school and Wyoming maintains its status as a global leader in supercomputing.”

    Derecho will become operational in early 2022. Built by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the supercomputer will be a 19.87-petaflops system, meaning it will have the theoretical ability to perform 19.87 quadrillion calculations per second. That is about 3.5 times the speed of scientific computing performed by the current NWSC supercomputer, Cheyenne.

    To view a live-stream of today’s announcement, click here.


    To learn more about Derecho, NCAR, and today’s events click here.

    Congratulations Cael!


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