NASA contest offers cash to anyone who boosts its simulation code

Brittany A. Roston - May 4, 2017, 8:32 pm CDT
NASA contest offers cash to anyone who boosts its simulation code

NASA has another HeroX contest underway, one that will require interested participants to first sign an application and go through a government check. Those who make it through the process will get access to the space agency’s FUN3D software, something that itself is used for ‘solving nonlinear partial differential equations.’ Why would NASA give you access to such software? So that you can optimize the code to make it run faster.

NASA says that FUN3D is almost entirely written in Modern Fortran, and that it is ‘evolving steadily in multi-language directions for reasons other than performance.’ Some components are written in Ruby and C++. Because of strict export laws related to the software, which was funded by taxpayers and is government property, only United States citizens are allowed to apply and enter in this contest.

A whole host of other limitations also exist, such as applicants only being allowed to use personal and nonaffiliated email services like Gmail; this is because any other email, including educational ones, imply that the applicant is operating under an affiliation rather than a sole person. As well, FUN3D can only be installed on a personal computer that the applicant owns, only the applicant is allowed to access the software, and more.

Those who aren’t scared away by the application process and the various rules can find the application here. Multiple prizes will ultimately be awarded, the top being $10,000 for first place in the Ideation Award and $15,000 in the Topcoder Architecture Awards. Second place in each category is $5,000 and $10,000, respectively. There’s also a Qualified Improvement Candidate Prize Pool of $10,000. Hit up the HeroX link below for the full contest rules and details.


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