Computational Science Education Expert from Capital University Joins Regents, Supercomputer Center on Statewide Project

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Jun 13, 2005) — 

A Capital University professor has been recruited by the Ohio Board of Regents and the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) to set their statewide computational science program in motion.

Ignatios Vakalis, professor of mathematics and computer science and executive director of the Center of Computational Studies at Capital University, will serve as coordinator for undergraduate education for the Statewide Initiative for Computational Science and also will be appointed as OSC senior fellow.

"We are pleased that Dr. Vakalis, a leading expert in computational science education, will be coordinating the start-up of this crucial statewide enterprise," said Garrison Walters, Ohio Board of Regents vice chancellor for academic affairs and economic advancement. "He will help chart the roadmap to promote computational science in Ohio."

"We want to make Ohio the leader in computational science education by equipping Ohio's workforce of tomorrow with an understanding of emerging computational technologies. This will enable us to make discoveries at the intersections of traditional disciplines," said Stan Ahalt, OSC executive director.

"Our goal is to create dynamic partnerships among our state's educational institutions (K-16) that will lead an increasingly diverse population of students into leading-edge technical careers of the future," said Dr. Vakalis. "The great partnership between OSC and the Regents is a key catalyst to the success of the computational science roadmap. We have the momentum, resources, and will to be the leader in this field."

Dr. Vakalis will delve into different sectors of the Ohio educational process, from K-12 to graduate education. The following areas will be covered during his tenure:

  • K-12 Tech Prep -- Vakalis will collaborate with Project Lead the Way Ohio (PLTW), a collaboration between the Regents and the Ohio Department of Education to prepare a new generation of engineers and scientists from K-12 through college.
  • Community Colleges -- With the assistance of task force groups, Vakalis will work to create computational science curricula delivered at the community college level. The goal is to invigorate community college students to further pursue studies at a four-year college and work toward a baccalaureate degree in computational science or a related degree.

    "If you want to maximize the impact on students, you must approach the community colleges to enhance computational science education," said Dr. Vakalis. "Many students start their post-secondary education at community colleges."
  • Undergraduate Education -- A statewide curriculum and guidelines will be created for computational science education at the undergraduate level. A comprehensive and complementary curriculum will develop future teachers for secondary education, empower students to pursue a graduate degree in specialized fields, and prepare most of the workforce required for industry.
  • Certification -- Vakalis will examine the creation of a state certificate at the undergraduate level. Any higher education institution could grant this certificate. [[Industry will be heavily involved in setting requirements for students being hired in computational science specialties.
  • Masters Degree -- Vakalis will explore adding educational components to enhance existing science and engineering programs by infusing computational science topics and techniques.

Dr. Vakalis began his appointment by recently submitting a grant to the National Science Foundation to implement the undergraduate piece of the overall initiative. One of his duties will be to promote computational science at the state's universities and colleges. He will then focus on infusing computational science into the Tech Prep program, followed by the creation of the certification program with heavy input from industry.

The Third Frontier Network (TFN), the nation's leading superscale research network, will be a key in delivering, empowering, and implementing the computational science roadmap and curriculum.

Capital University President Theodore Frederickson and Dean Denvy Bowman of the College of Arts and Sciences agreed to release Dr. Vakalis for one year to lend his expertise to the project. His appointment was approved in March by the Ohio Board of Regents and OSC and will continue through May 2006.