Beaver Overdrive
Front: Hunter Murga, Ayush Choudhury, Salma Alawwami, Shreyans Khunteta, Myat Khine, Genevieve Gaudin,and  Joshua Gess. Middle: Alec Nordlund, Gordon Kitchener, Tyler Nguyen, David Ha, Rachel McAfee, Duncan O’Boyle, and Brian Cierone. Back: Jacob Hungerford, Jacob Collier, Ivan Chen, Alex Leach, Devin Oar, Kevin Chau, and Matthew Harrison.

This past fall, Joshua Gess, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and a group of his graduate students started Beaver Overdrive, a competitive computer overclocking team.

Overclocking a computer, or pushing its processor past the manufacturer’s designed limits to achieve greater performance, introduces many challenges that cover various engineering disciplines. This problem has brought students from various fields together to tackle a real-world problem with hands-on experience.

“I’ve always wanted an interdisciplinary competition that highlighted extreme thermal management,” said Gess. “High-performance computer overclocking is the perfect marriage between electrical, computer science, and thermal engineering.”

The students on the team are learning fundamental thermodynamic principles years before they would typically see them in their coursework. In addition, Gess adds, “Industry partners love that we are preparing our students for more impactful experiences at their internships.”

So far, Beaver Overdrive has competed in two HWBOT Rookie Rumbles. HWBOT is the worlds recognized leader for holding overclocking competitions. The competition includes a number of tests of how fast and efficiently the team’s system can perform calculations such as pi to one billion digits. 

In its first competition, Beaver Overdrive placed 10th out of 465 worldwide competitors. In its most recent bout, the team placed fourth.

“I am so excited to see where this goes, especially when we start beating other universities,” said Gess. “Since we are the first, we will have the leg up, but we know the competition will be fierce once other universities figure out what we have going on here at Oregon State University.”

Special thanks to Intel, IEEE, and Facebook for their support getting this group off the ground.