|ASE/EM Originated ICES|
For several decades, engineering and science communities have become increasingly aware that computer modeling and simulation was emerging as a new paradigm for scientific discovery and modern technology. It has revolutionized engineering and provided an indispensable tool for resolving a multitude of scientific and technological problems.
At The University of Texas at Austin, ASE/EM was the first academic department to embrace this new discipline, and as a result founded what is now one of the premier programs in the world, the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES). About one-third of the ASE/EM faculty participate in ICES research and teach in the unique graduate program dedicated to computational engineering and sciences.
The interdisciplinary nature of computational research had an early appeal for ASE/EM faculty, who typically address the problems of complex systems requiring people with a wide range of skills to work together. ASE/EM faculty have achieved advances as broad as improved hurricane prediction and evacuation, cancer and cardiovascular treatment, flight vehicle safety, oil discovery and more.
As early as 1973 ASE/EM faculty began researching and teaching developments in mathematics, computer science, and numerical analysis and their applications to major problems in solid and fluid mechanics, dynamics, and mechanics of materials. They called this new discipline computational mechanics, one of the first areas within the broad subject of computational engineering and science to be born in the latter half of the twentieth century. In the spring of 1973, this faculty group organized the Texas Institute for Computational Mechanics (TICOM).
In the early 1990s TICOM expanded into a new interdisciplinary research unit, the Texas Institute for Computational and Applied Mathematics (TICAM), with its faculty primarily concentrated in ASE/EM, computer sciences and mathematics. TICAM, the second phase in the evolution of ICES, was created with the financial support of a private foundation and the enthusiastic support of the UT administration and the colleges of engineering and natural sciences. Ironically, the termination of the National Superconducting Supercollider construction in the late 1980s inadvertently led to TICAM, because its design demonstrated the phenomenal power of computer simulation to those who ultimately supported TICAM’s formation.
A unique aspect of TICAM was the creation of a new graduate degree program leading to a Ph.D. in computational and applied mathematics (CAM). With its necessary emphasis on interdisciplinary work, CAM became an unprecedented, stand-alone academic program positioned in the university organizational structure outside traditional schools and colleges, and reporting to the UT president through the Vice President for Research.
In 2003, additional investments in TICAM were made and the scope was expanded to include chemistry and biochemistry, physics, biology and the geological sciences. In recognition of this expanded scope, the program’s name changed to The Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES).
In 2009, the CAM graduate studies program name was changed to Computational Science, Engineering and Mathematics (CSEM) to reflect its fundamental intellectual and academic components. This challenging degree program features advanced courses in modern computational and applied mathematics, numerical analysis and scientific computing, and mathematical modeling with applications to cutting edge problems in science and engineering. Today, 71 students are enrolled in this program.
Along the way, the university has made parallel investments in what is now the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). TACC’s mission is to provide high performance computing resources to accommodate the rapidly expanding requirements for massive calculations typically executed on supercomputers or distributed computing platforms.
Challenges remain to further advance simulation-based engineering and science. The computational community must overcome difficulties inherent in multiscale modeling, the development of next-generation algorithms and the design and implementation of dynamic data-driven application systems. Researchers must improve methods to quantify uncertainty and to model validation and verification. Better ways to integrate data-intensive computing, visualization and simulation must be determined. In addition, educational systems must be reconceived to foster the interdisciplinary study that computational engineering and science requires. ICES faculty and students in CSEM are working on all of these challenges. Its core of ASE/EM faculty continue to provide strong leadership in the intellectual and collaborative demands of this vital endeavor.