ALCF’s Michael Papka receives Pinnacle of Education Award

Mike Papka Teaching Image

ALCF’s Michael Papka helped establish Argonne’s Big Data Camp, an annual event that allows high school students to gain hands-on experience with computing and data science tools. (Image: Argonne National Laboratory)

ALCF Director Michael Papka was recognized for his efforts to teach and inspire students by leading and participating in computer science camps and activities.

Michael E. Papka, a deputy associate laboratory director at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and director of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a DOE Office of Science user facility, has been recognized with the 2022 Argonne Board of Governors' Pinnacle of Education Award for his dedication and contributions to science education outreach activities aimed at inspiring youth.

“I’m truly honored to receive this award,” said Papka, who is also a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois Chicago. “In my roles at Argonne and UIC, I know how important it is to cultivate the next generation of scientists and engineers. By providing fun learning experiences and mentoring students early on, we can show them how exciting and rewarding a career in science can be.”

Since assuming leadership of the ALCF in 2010, Papka has launched several summer computer science camps for local middle school and high school students, including Coding for Science Camp, Big Data Camp, and most recently, an artificial intelligence-focused camp with colleagues at Northern Illinois University.

All the camps are done in collaboration with Argonne Educational Programs staff and other Argonne volunteers around topics in computer science. The curricula are designed to introduce kids to computational thinking skills through hands-on coding and data analysis activities and interactions with professional researchers.

“Mike’s track record of creating STEM experiences for students that encourage computational skills and highlight the work and mission of Argonne research, is helping to build a strong pipeline to Argonne opportunities at the high school level and beyond,” said Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director for Computing, Environment and Life Sciences.

In addition to his roles at Argonne, Papka has been teaching computer science to college students for over a decade. Prior to joining UIC he was a Presidential Research, Scholarship and Artistry Professor of computer science at Northern Illinois University.


The Argonne Leadership Computing Facility provides supercomputing capabilities to the scientific and engineering community to advance fundamental discovery and understanding in a broad range of disciplines. Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science, Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program, the ALCF is one of two DOE Leadership Computing Facilities in the nation dedicated to open science.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit