It's a small world: Andy Oram, my co-editor on Beautiful Code, just interviewed Brent Gorda, co-author of the first version of the Software Carpentry course, about the cluster challenge that's running at Supercomputing'07. Don't be fooled by the purple-on-black titles: this is a very cool idea. Students teams get fixed time (and fixed electrical power) to put together a cluster and run some benchmarks. Doing this earned you a PhD twenty years ago; ten years ago, it would have been a line item in a department's budget. It's now a contest for students, and I look forward to finding a cluster in the bottom of a cereal box before I die... ;-)
Later: Brent has started blogging about the Cluster Challenge at O'Reilly's ONLamp site. I'm looking forward to hearing how the teams do.