L to R: Amadeu Sum, Matt Walsh '03 and David Wu

It was just before Thanksgiving, 2008, when Mines doctoral student Matthew Walsh sat down at a keyboard in the chemical engineering building, typed in a few final instructions for the nearby supercomputer Ra, and took off for his holiday vacation.

By the time he returned in January, he and his 7-foot-tall, 14-footlong virtual colleague had made history.