Engineering-Led NSF Grant Supports University-Wide High-Performance Computing

Engineering-Led NSF Grant Supports University-Wide High-Performance Computing

A team of three Villanova faculty and two staff have been awarded a two-year, $397,196 National Science Foundation Campus Cyberinfrastructure (CC*) grant. Titled “CC* Compute: High-Performance Computing (HPC) Backbone for Accelerating Campus-Wide and Regional Research,” the award will fund a university-wide HPC cluster that will help advance Villanova’s computational research. The team is comprised of Principal Investigator Dr. Aaron Wemhoff, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Center for Energy-Smart Electronic Systems’ Villanova site; Co-PI Dr. David Cereceda, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering; Co-PI Dr. Ryan Jorn, assistant professor of Chemistry; and Co-PI Jonathan Graziola, manager of IT operations for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with support by Dan McGee of UNIT. Significant contributions to the proposal were provided by Drs. Chengyu Li and C. Nataraj of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Virginia Smith of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Dr. Joe Toscano of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

Dr. Wemhoff explains, “As Villanova continues to grow its research enterprise, this university-wide computing effort will increase the capabilities of at least 27 research-intensive faculty in engineering, the physical sciences and social sciences.” The grant also establishes the Southeastern Pennsylvania High-Performance Computing Consortium, which provides computational access to researchers from small local colleges and universities, thereby fostering collaborative partnerships with Villanova researchers and each other. The effort also connects the University to the broader Open Science Grid network for distributing available resources to researchers nationally. In addition, the grant will allow Villanova to integrate high performance computing into 10 newly created or modified undergraduate and graduate courses.

Specifically, this project will:

  1. Establish the computational hardware—including 1,184 central processing units, 10,240 graphical processing units and 448 terabytes of data storage—along with complementary software and networking resources
  2. Grow resource usage on campus and regionally in project areas that improve the fundamental understanding of (1) structural materials behavior in fusion energy applications, (2) causes for various nasal sinus diseases, (3) ion transport in energy storage devices, (4) speech perception and language processing, (5) river behavior, and (6) nonlinear mechanical behavior, including advancements in machine learning algorithms
  3. Institute practices to mitigate the costs associated with cluster growth and maintenance

Lastly, Dr. Wemhoff notes that the grant offers an added benefit in the form of “opportunities for student engagement, education and training, resulting in an improved preparation of students for the STEM workforce in which nearly every field is being transformed by computational advancements.”