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AHPCRC Bulletin: Summer 1995 - Volume 5 Number 3

1995 Summer Institute on High Performance Computing for Undergraduate Students

Barbara Bryan (AHPCRC-MSCI)

Sixteen students attended the AHPCRCs eight-week Summer Institute for Under-graduates in High Performance Computing. The students were primarily sophomore and junior undergraduates studying in various fields of science, engineering, mathematics and computer science. The purpose of the AHPCRC Summer Institute is to encourage undergraduate students to pursue graduate studies and careers in High Performance Computing (HPC). The 1995 Summer Institute was funded by the AHPCRC and by a grant from the Cray Research Foundation.

Figure 1. Andrew Johnson taught a mini course in Computational Fluid Dynamics to the students at the Summer Institute. The students received hands-on instructions with some of the software tools available at the AHPCRC.
The Summer Institute consisted of three components: a training program, undergraduate student research projects, and seminars and field trips. Students were trained in the basics of HPC (UNIX, Fortran, graphics, and parallel programming) and were required to do an independent research project which emphasized using HPC tools to solve real-world science and engineering problems.


Students at the 1995 Summer Institute were given intensive training in the tools that scientists and engineers require for the effective use of HPC systems to solve computational problems. UNIX and Fortran programming were taught, with an emphasis on those tools required by scientists and engineers.

Scientific Visualization including using X11, generating images, writing scripts, making mpeg movies, and writing HyperText Markup Language (HTML) for the World Wide Web (WWW) were taught. The HTML work was particularly important as the students had to write their project reports and final presentations using this environment.

Figure 2. Charles Nietubicz of the Army Research Laboratory took time out after his seminar presentation to discuss the problem of flow past a missile at Mach 2 and 3 with Princesa VanBuren, Martha Johnson, and Heath Johnson. This project was based on a missile description from ARL.
Parallel programming emphasizing programming on the Cray T3D, Thinking Machines CM-5 and SGI Onyx in Fortran, rounded out the computer training. Data Parallel, Message Passing and Worksharing programming models were covered.

In addition to the computer training, students took two mini courses to provide them with the background needed for their research projects. The first course, An Introduction to Computational Fluid Dynamics, covered the basics of finite element formulations, numerical methods, surface modeling, mesh generation, flow simulation, and visualization and animation, including instructions on running some of the software tools that the students would need for their projects. This course was taught by Andrew Johnson.

A second mini course on Computational Groundwater Modeling covered the basics of flow through porous media, saturated and unsaturated zones, multiphase and preferential flow, transport of reactive solutes, the solution of the Poisson equation, and some of the computational tools used in Groundwater Modeling. This course was taught by John Nieber and Debasmita Misra.


The seminar program included talks by University, Army, and Industry researchers. These seminars emphasized the importance of HPC in solving real-world research problems. Seminars covered areas such as Computational Fluid Dynamics, Computational Chemistry, Software Development, Environmental Modeling, Computational Structural Mechanics, Material Science, and the Future of High Performance Computing. Highlights of the program included seminars on Surface Water and Groundwater Modeling by Jeff Holland of the US Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station (CEWES), Interior Ballistics Modeling by Gloria Wren of the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Future of HPC by N. Radhakrishnan (CEWES), Software Development by Susan Crawford of Cray Research, and Computational Fluid Dynamic by Charles Nietubicz (ARL).
Figure 3. N. Radhakrishnan, Director of the Information Technology Laboratory at the Waterways Experiment Station talked to the students about the future of High Performance Computing.

Student Research Projects

The students were divided into two project groups, Computational Fluid Dynamics, led by Andrew Johnson and assisted by Heath Johnson, and Groundwater Modeling, led by Debasmita Misra and John Nieber assisted by Hung Nguyen. The projects covered a broad spectrum of activities from software development to using existing tools for engineering modeling and analysis.
Figure 4. CFD Project Group, left to right: front row - Ava Jeffries, Davina Johnson, LaKeitha Gilbert, Stephanie Elder; second row - Andrew Johnson (Project Leader), Heath Johnson (Teaching Assistant), Princesa VanBuren, Martha Johnson; third row - Floyd Hill, Leon Thomas, Joseph Baker, Exel Caraballo.

Each student developed a plan that described their project, the required background, the computer software and hardware needed, and a timetable for completing the project.

There were a total of 14 student projects. LaKeitha Gilbert, a junior at Clark Atlanta University chose to study the contaminant flow past a military jeep. She set up the surface model of the vehicle using a description supplied to her by the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC), created a mesh using an automatic mesh generator developed at the AHPCRC, ran the flow simulation, and visualized her results showing particle traces to represent contaminants.

Figure 5. Groundwater Project Group, left to right: front row - Eboini Cannon, Latonja Slaughter, Alana McCants; second row: Hung Nguyen (Teaching Assistant), Marcel Hillie, Rashad Sims, Angel Rivera; third row - John Nieber and Debasmita Misra (Project Leaders).

Rashad Sims and Latonja Slaughter of Jackson State University studied contaminant flow through homogeneous and heterogeneous porous media. Their project required that they model and run the simulation as well as write Fortran subroutines for interactive visualization of the contaminant dispersion.

Floyd Hill, a Computer Science student from Florida A&M University chose a software development project. In automatic mesh generation it is costly to globally refine a mesh. Floyds software can start with a mesh generated by a mesh generation program, and globally refine it by subdividing the existing elements. This process is much faster than using an automatic mesh generator to achieve a comparable effect.

Figure 6. Summer Institute students were given homework assignments to accompany the courses in the training program. Here, students Floyd Hill and Leon Thomas are working on their homework in the AHPCRC graphics and visualization facilities.

Upon completion of their projects, each student wrote a report presenting project results and posted it in the 1995 Summer Institute section connected to the WWW home page of the AHPCRC. The titles of the students research projects are listed here.

On August 7 and 8, the students presented the results of their projects using these WWW home pages. Some of those attending the presentations included Robert Whalin (Director, CEWES), Walter Sturek (ARL Contracting Officers Representative for AHPCRC), Frank Hamilton (Director, Division of Sponsored Research, Florida A&M University), Abdul Mohamed (Dean, School of Science and Technology, Jackson State University), Kunal Ghosh (Chair, Physics and Atmospheric Sciences, Jackson State University), Olugbemiga Olatidoye (Director, Visualization Simulation and Design Laboratory, Clark Atlanta University), Phillips Shively (Provost for Arts, Sciences and Engineering, University of Minnesota), Willard Miller and Pat Kumar (Acting and Associate Deans of the Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota).

Field Trips

Figure 7. Students designed WWW pages for their undergraduate student research project reports. This example is from Princesa VanBuren's project, Numerical Simulation of Airflow Past Projectiles Traveling at High Mach Numbers.

Students also went on field trips to the Departments of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, and Computer Science at the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Supercomputer Center, Inc. (MSCI), Cray Research Inc. and 3M Corp. The University of Minnesota departments described their graduate programs and research facilities to the students. At MSCI, students were able to see the HPC systems on which they would be doing their research projects. At Cray, they toured the data center and were given talks by Crays Applications Development Group. At 3M, students heard about how computing is being used in a production industrial facility, and toured the 3M Computer Aided Design Lab, Rapid Prototyping Center, and Fiber Optic Draw tower.