Penn State establishes Institute for Computational Science

July 27, 2004

University Park, Pa. -- Penn State has established a University-wide Institute for Computational Sciences that will bring together faculty from 11 colleges, institutes and units to pursue collaborative projects in computational science.

"Computational science is the use of computers, networks, storage devices, software and algorithms to solve problems, do simulations, build things or create new knowledge," said Lyle Long, professor of aerospace engineering and director of the new institute. "It is the intersection of computing hardware, algorithms, software and discipline specific knowledge."

Computational science can include high-performance computing, numerical analysis, informatics, databases, statistics, intelligence systems and other tools. Disciplines as disparate as psychology and high-energy physics, fluid mechanics and evolutionary biology use computational science. Nearly every department on campus has some potential applications and facility in computational science.

"The Institute's initial focus will be on creating a campus-wide community of computational scientists, developing more interdisciplinary grant applications in computational science and supporting graduate education in computational science," said Long.

The Computational Sciences Institute grew from a combination of ideas and existing units. An initial Computational Fluid Dynamics Center in the College of Engineering (1986-1995) morphed into the Institute for High Performance Computer Applications (1995-2004) within the college and a University-wide graduate minor in high-performance computing in 1999 to the present.

Then Karin E. Foley, associate dean, Eberly College of Science, began an initiative to bring computational researchers together within the College of Science, However, a University-wide computational community obviously was a better idea so she and Long joined forces. Building on the existing Institute for High-Performance Computing, the Institute for Computational Science became a University-wide institute.

Current projects for the institute include a University-wide seminar series with external and internal speakers; a Computational Science Day already set for Feb. 17, 2005; the establishment of more computational science courses; and collaborative grant applications in computational science.

The institute and its members will pursue grants in computational science research, acquisition of computing and networking hardware for Penn State and graduate education including student funding.

The high-performance computing graduate minor, which will change to the graduate minor in computational science, already has graduated 38 master's and doctoral degree students and currently has 52 students enrolled. The institute also will consider the possibility of a graduate major in computational science.

The institute will look for support from industry and government in computational science research.

More information is available at the ICS Web site:

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 04, 2010