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including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

New classroom created for scientific modeling, visualization

By Sally Harris

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 11 - November 6, 1997

In response to the rise of computational science as a major component of science and engineering in the past decade, a new classroom resource, the Scientific Modeling and Visualization Classroom (SMVC) has been established.
Located in 334 McBryde, the classroom is intended to meet the needs of courses that depend heavily on computer simulation and sophisticated interactive graphics for modeling and visualizing physical phenomena, according to Chris Beattie, associate professor of mathematics. While computing has been an important tool in many disciplines for almost 50 years, the role of computation has grown especially significant with the more recent widespread availability of large-scale, high-performance computers, Beattie said.
For example, aircraft designers now use computational models to validate, and in some cases replace, wind-tunnel experiments to study air flow by visualization around proposed designs. In this and many other disciplines, computational methods have joined experimental and theoretical approaches as a third major paradigm for science and engineering.
Funded by donations from Sun Microsystems and Visual Numerics and supported by the Computing Center, the College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Biochemistry, the SMVC has as its primary purpose to provide a sophisticated instructional environment for regularly scheduled classes. The classroom can also be viewed as a prototype of the kind of classroom which will be available in the planned Advanced Computing and Information Technology Center (ACITC), Beattie said.
The classroom became available for normal use during spring semester and was used regularly by David Bevan of biochemistry for an advanced course in molecular modeling, by Beattie for an introductory graduate seminar on computing, and by Cal Ribbens of computer science for a class in parallel processing.
The room is approximately 800 square feet, can comfortably accommodate 16 students, and is configured with eight SPARC 20 workstations and a Sun Ultra server. There is projection equipment available as well.
Anyone interested in the classroom for either regular or occasional use should contact Beattie at beattie@math.vt.edu or 1-8279, Ron Kriz at kriz@wave.esm.vt.edu or 1-4386, or Cal Ribbens at ribbens@cs.vt.edu or 1-6262.
The SMVC home page address is http://www.smvc.vt.edu.