Kennedy High IT Students Spend a Week at the Lab Making Connections


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As ESnet’s Sowmya Balasubramanian (left) and LaRue Moore (right) look on, Kennedy IT Academy students Michelle and Luis evaluate the performance of network nodes.

Ten students from the IT Academy at Richmond’s Kennedy High School spent the first week of their summer vacation getting hands-on experience in high-speed networking and getting first-hand advice on planning their future.

The students and IT Academy lead teacher LaRue Moore participated in the June 12-16 pilot workshop introducing them to networking for science. The five-day workshop include a 30-minute instructional presentations followed by 30 minutes of hands-on work, a sequence developed by Sowmya Balasubramanian of ESnet. Topics included configuring IP addresses, tracing packets, assessing network performance and locating bottlenecks.

On the last day, students were given the assignment: You are a network administrator. You have five Raspberry Pis that serve as data transfer nodes. They are connected to a switch that can process at 1000 megabits/second. The Raspberry Pi themselves can transfer at 100 megabits/second. A user wants to use one of the data transfer nodes and has approached you for help in finding the best node. You need to run tests to find which is the best node.

Working in teams, the students measured the round-trip time for each node and then balance speed against packet loss to determine which performed best. Students then presented their findings to the group, as they would make a recommendation to an IT expert.

“This was extremely valuable for our students and now I want to see how we can scale it up to 40 students,” Moore said. “This week has given them both more knowledge and more confidence.”

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View a photo feature of the workshop.