9: School of Graduate Engineering and Applied Science

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Facilities and Services

The School of Engineering and Applied Science is located in a complex of buildings, the main one being Thornton Hall, named after the first dean of engineering. Thornton Hall houses the School’s administrative offices, the Departments of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, and Electrical Engineering; the Division of Technology, Culture, and Communication; and assorted research laboratories. South of Thornton Hall is Olsson Hall, which houses the Departments of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics, Computer Science, and Systems Engineering. Adjacent to these buildings are three buildings housing the Departments of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Chemical Engineering. The Department of Biomedical Engineering is located in Stacey Hall, which is part of the Health Sciences Center. The Nuclear Reactor Facility and the Aerospace Research Laboratory are located on Mount Jefferson.

Center for Computational Structures Technology   The Center for Computational Structures Technology was established in July 1990 to serve as a focal point for the diverse CST activities including modeling, analysis, sensitivity studies, optimization, and the use of artificial intelligence methods in these activities. The center has the following four specific objectives: (1) to conduct innovative research on advanced topics of CST; (2) to act as a pathfinder, by demonstrating to the research community what can be done (high- potential, high-risk research); (3) to help in identifying future directions of research in support of the aeronautical and space missions of the twenty-first century; and (4) to help both in the rapid transfer of research results, and in broadening awareness among researchers and engineers of state-of-the-art in CST, and in other areas of computational technology which can impact high-performance computing and computational aerosciences.

The center is an integral part of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and is located at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Aerospace Research Laboratory   In the Aerospace Research Laboratory a unique wind tunnel is the focus of research which is identifying the basic phenomena associated with supersonic combustion. Hydrogen is injected into the supersonic (Mach 2) wind tunnel and analyzed as it mixes and burns with high- temperature, uncontaminated air. Two factors distinguish the University of Virginia work. First, the use of clean air, made possible by electric heating, correctly simulates the composition of the atmosphere. Secondly, the tests utilize non-intrusive laser diagnostic techniques. The laser techniques and the unique wind tunnel promise to yield accurate measurements of supersonic mixing and combustion which are essential to the successful design of the propulsion system for the ultimate flight of the National Aerospace Plane.

Institute for Microelectronics   The University of Virginia Institute for Microelectronics (VIM) was established in 1996. The purpose of VIM is to facilitate and promote research and educational activities in electronic materials, semiconductor devices and fabrication, electronic design automation, and microelectronic systems. The VIM serves as a catalyst to focus and stimulate research activities, educational activities, and technology transfer in the field of microelectronics. The VIM is an interdisciplinary activity involving faculty and students from the Departments of Computer Science; Electrical Engineering; Materials Science; Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering; and Systems Engineering. Research facilities include the Applied Electrophysics Laboratories, the Center for Intelligent Processing of Materials, the Center for Semicustom Integrated Systems, the Communications Systems Laboratory, and the Center for Risk Management of Engineering Systems. Research within VIM focuses specifically on a number of new initiatives including: design for semiconductor manufacturability; sub-micron technologies; microsystems and adaptive microinstruments; embedded microelectronic systems; and high-performance optical and electronic devices. VIM interacts closely with numerous industrial partners to facilitate rapid technology transfer from the University’s laboratories, to provide excellent education of students, and to provide continuing education programs in the high-technology areas required by the microelectronics industry.

The Institute for Parallel Computation   Computation is increasingly central to the conduct of science and engineering in the United States and abroad. Indeed, it has been termed the third paradigm of science, augmenting both theory and experimentation. As computation has become integrated with the sciences, both researchers and practitioners have sought to apply it to ever larger problems, constantly pushing technology to the limit. Even if devices are pushed to their theoretical limits (an unlikely outcome), single CPU computers cannot improve their performance by more than a factor of a thousand. Over the last fifteen years, the single CPU performance of high-end supercomputers has improved by less than an order of magnitude; the much talked about performance improvements have come in micro-processors. The result is that contemporary micro-processors are within a factor of two to three in performance of high-end supercomputers.

The implications for computational science are clear. If we wish to solve ever-larger problems, we must make a transition from single CPU systems to multi-CPU, parallel systems. This transition is now in progress. All of the major supercomputer vendors now offer parallel machines as their high-end machines. Unfortunately, existing sequential codes do not easily make the transition to parallel machines. Much as codes had to be re-written to exploit the properties of vector machines, applications must be recoded to exploit multiple CPUs. The re-writing process is very poorly understood at this time, primarily because parallel computing itself is not yet well understood. The result is, that it is very hard to re-write some codes, consuming a great deal of time and effort, and requiring extensive efforts at performance optimization.

The mission of the Institute for Parallel Computation (IPC) is to foster interaction between domain scientists and computer scientists working in the area of high-performance computing. The objectives are to improve the research productivity of domain scientists through high-performance computing; to provide a live test environment for experimental high-performance computing techniques on real codes; and to provide feedback from domain scientists to computer scientist on how they think about problems, what tools are needed, and how well the tools work.

The Systems Integration Laboratory   The Systems Integration Laboratory (SIL), a research lab within the Center for Semicustom Integrated Systems, focuses on design and implementation of complex electronic systems. The SIL activities include the implementation of proof-of-concept and pre-production prototypes for commercial products. The SIL has five state-of-the-art electronic design/test benches, each outfitted with a high speed logic analyzer and digital storage oscilloscope, along with other traditional bench test equipment.

The miniaturization capabilities of the SIL allow systems which integrate both sensors and electronic circuits to be developed for specific applications. Surface Mount Technology (SMT) is used extensively in the SIL. Surface mount components can be mounted on the surface of printed circuit boards (PCBs) rather than through the PCB, and allow for the implementation of high-density, miniaturized, reliable systems.

Both graduate and undergraduate students participate in SIL development activities, and are involved in all aspects of the development cycle, from concept to implementation.

Semiconductor Device Laboratory   The Semiconductor Device Laboratory maintains a position of international prominence for research achievements in the area of solid-state devices for millimeter and submillimeter wavelength electronics. This research is focused on the development of high-sensitivity, ultra-low-noise Gallium Arsenide Schottky barrier diodes for high frequency (150 GHz and above) receiver applications. Research in the SDL has led to the fabrication of the most sensitive receiver elements yet developed for use in submillimeter wavelengths. These devices are now in use around the world in radio astronomy, chemical spectroscopy, atmospheric physics, and plasma diagnostics.

Reactor Facility   The Nuclear Reactor Facility, completed in 1960 and expanded in 1970, houses a 2-MW pool reactor and a well- equipped activation analysis and radiochemical laboratory. This facility is located a mile west of Thornton Hall.

The Automobile Safety Laboratory   The Automobile Safety Laboratory is a part of the Impact Biomechanics Program at the University of Virginia. The laboratory is located close to the University Grounds, in a building dedicated to vehicle safety testing and engineering studies. The focal point of the equipment is a test sled with a 66-foot track, allowing the test equipment to reach high velocities. The laboratory is fully equipped with lights, high-speed cameras, and computer control and data collection systems, permitting testing of a multitude of configurations and types of equipment.

Center for Computer Aided Engineering   The Center for Computer Aided Engineering provides resources and equipment for all aspects of computer aided engineering (CAE), including computer aided design, manufacturing, and testing. The center conducts interdisciplinary research in broad areas related to CAE, as well as providing equipment and resources to support such work.

Computers   The School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Department of Information Technology and Communication provide a wide range of modern computing facilities to support student computing activities. Students use these computing facilities for a variety of applications including course work, special projects and research, word processing, spreadsheets, and electronic mail.

There are a number of public computing facilities available to students. These facilities are open 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and are staffed with student consultants during the afternoons and evenings. Over 500 workstations of various models are housed in these public labs. All of these computers are connected to the University’s networks, and can be used either as stand-alone computers, or to access other computers at the University or around the world. Some public facilities house high-performance Unix workstations that can be used for specific courses or research. All public facilities provide free printing via laser printers.

Most departments and research groups operate their own computing facilities to supplement the public facilities. These computers are used for specific courses and research projects within those departments. The equipment includes everything from PCs, Macintoshes, and general purpose Unix workstations, to high-performance graphics workstations and specialized processors for vision and sound research, to highly advanced parallel processing engines.

The Science and Engineering Library located in Clark Hall, includes more than 240,000 volumes, 1,500 current serial subscriptions, and 1 million technical reports. A full range of information services is available including an on-line catalog with remote access, reference assistance, computerized literature searching, and inter-library loans and document delivery.

Office of Career Services   An Office of Career Services is available to help engineering students establish their career goals and develop strategies to attain those objectives. In addition to individual appointments, the office provides resource material on career fields, job search strategies, interviewing techniques, and employment opportunities. The office also coordinates on-Grounds interviews in conjunction with the University’s central career planning and placement office.

Office of Minority Programs   The Office of Minority Programs, established in the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1986, is available to help minority students by providing academic support, motivational activities, and financial assistance. The office provides counseling, peer counseling, and other special services for both undergraduate and graduate students. The office sponsors the Graduate Society of Black Engineers, a support group for minorities enrolled in graduate engineering programs.

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