Ralph Regula School of Computational Science Image

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. On Computational Science
    1. What is computational science and how is it different from computer science?
    2. Why is computational science important?
  2. On the Computational Science Initiative
    1. What is the Ohio Computational Science Initiative (CSI)?
    2. Why is there a need for a computational science initiative?
  3. On the Ralph Regula School of Computational Science
    1. What is the Ralph Regula School of Computational Science?
    2. Why is a statewide school needed?
    3. How will the School help expand access to the opportunity to learn about computational science?
    4. How will the School be funded?
    5. How can higher education institutions get involved?
    6. How will industry be involved?
    7. How is K-12 involved?
    8. Why is the School named after Congressman Regula?
    9. Who is leading this project?
    10. Does the School make use of the OSCnet?
    11. Who do I contact for more information about the School?
  4. How do Ohio companies use computational science?

1. Questions on Computational Science

1.a. What is computational science and how is it different from computer science?

Computational science (CSI), is a fairly new term. Unlike computer science, which is primarily focused on the study of computer technology and algorithms, CSI describes the application of computing, especially high performance computing, to the solution of scientific and engineering problems. Computational scientists use computers to create mathematical models that help them simulate and understand natural and mechanical processes, as well as to visualize these models.

One well-known example of computational science is weather forecasting, where vast amounts of data are combined with sets of mathematical formulas in a computer program called a weather model and used to develop forecasts. These forecasts are far more accurate and timely than were possible before computer models were employed. Another important example from business is the use of computer models to simulate and test new products prior to manufacturing. The use of "virtual prototypes" sharply reduces or even eliminates the slow and expensive process of building physical prototypes.

1.b. Why is computational science important?

The use of computational science has become essential to innovation in the increasingly competitive environments of industrial and scientific research. It allows researchers to study phenomena that would be difficult to study through any other means. For example, computational models allow researchers in the life sciences to simulate what happens when drug molecules interact with viruses and then visualize the result. It also allows car manufacturers to simulate repeated computer models of car crashes and then see what happens within the parts damaged in the crash.

It is expensive and time-consuming for scientists to conduct experiments or for businesses to build physical prototypes. For example, when computer models are used, it is possible to test how many different chemicals would interact with a protein in the time that it would take to conduct one experiment. Similarly, when a new car is being developed, it is similarly time consuming and expensive to build prototypes of a car in order to conduct crash tests.

Computer modeling and simulation makes it possible to try many "virtual experiments" within a computer before a real experiment is conducted or a physical prototype is created. Eventually it is still necessary to conduct the experiment or build the prototype, but before that happens many different alternatives have been tried in the computer and the best of these alternatives can be chosen and tested with a real prototype or experiment. The result is a radical change in science and business. Because the cost of building prototypes is reduced, businesses can be more creative with their products. They can try out many risky or innovative ideas through computer modeling before they have to commit to building a physical prototype. They can also get new products to market faster because they can reduce the time that would have been required to build and test physical prototypes.

The competitive advantage created by computational science is being widely recognized. According to the 2005 report of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC):

Computational science -- the use of advanced computing capabilities to understand and solve complex problems -- has become critical to scientific leadership, economic competitiveness, and national security. The PITAC believes that computational science is one of the most important technical fields of the 21st century because it is essential to advances throughout society.

The Council on Competitiveness has identified computational science as essential to the nation's competitiveness. They have summarized their view by stating that the nation must "Out-compute to out-compete." Through their survey of the Chief Information or Technology Officers of 33 major companies, the Council also found that 97% of those firms could not function without high performance computing and computational science. And this belief is not restricted to the U.S., Japan has identified high performance computing and computational science as one of the 10 technology fields critical to its competitiveness.

2. Questions on the Computational Science Initiative

2.a. What is the Ohio Computational Science Initiative?

In cooperation with the Ohio Board of Regents and the Ohio Department of Development, the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), is sponsoring the Ohio Computational Science Initiative to insure that Ohio leads other states in receiving the benefits of computational science. The Computational Science Initiative (CSI) will have three main components:

  1. The Ralph Regula School of Computational Science -- This component will help expand computational science education so that Ohio has a workforce trained to use this technology whether in a business or in an academic lab.
  2. Blue Collar Computing™ -- This component will help stream knowledge about computational science to Ohio businesses in ways that will offer direct and immediate benefit to the state's economy.
  3. Research -- OSC has long had the responsibility to strengthen Ohio's role in computational science research, benefiting Ohio through federal research support as well as by create a long-term advantage for Ohio's businesses because the state has better access to new techniques in computational science.

Although the initiative will be organized around three separate components, as they are implemented there will be extensive connections between the different components. For example, it is anticipated that students trained in computational science through the Ralph Regula School may be able to serve as interns with the companies being helped through the Blue Collar Computing program. The research initiative will also help ensure that students in computational science programs are exposed to the latest technologies.

2.b. Why is there a need for a Computational Science Initiative?

The Ohio Computational Science Initiative is needed in order to overcome three barriers to the use of computational science:

  • There are too few students learning about computational science. In most science programs, students receive only limited training in this area, and there are few programs where students can specialize in this field. This has happened because the resources needed for computational science education are expensive and not uniformly available across Ohio. In addition, most of Ohio's universities do not have the appropriate curricula in computational science. The Computational Science Initiative will work to ensure that students across the state have the opportunity to study computational science and to ensure that the universities and colleges have access to the resources they need in order to offer high-quality computational science programs.
  • Businesses have limited access to new and advanced computational science technologies. Advanced computational science uses technologies from the world of high performance computing. These tools help engineers and scientists develop more accurate computer models or run models faster than would be possible with the computers found in most businesses. But, access to the specialized resources needed for advanced CSI has typically been limited to academic researchers and to large businesses which can afford these expensive resources. The Ohio Computational Science Initiative would remove this barrier by creating new services that enable small and medium-sized business to have equal access to the competitive advantage of advanced computational science.
  • Federal investments in computational science are primarily targeted at the solution of what are called grand scientific challenges. These investments have been very successful, but there has not been a parallel investment in research aimed at adapting the technologies resulting from grand challenge science to business needs. This is one reason that businesses has lagged behind in their capability to undertake large computational science projects. Research is needed in the development of new, high level computer languages that make it easier for business software developers to adapt scientific supercomputing technologies to business applications. And, an active program is needed that would help transfer new scientific computational science technologies to businesses. While in part this problem can only be addressed through initiatives at the national level, the research components of the Computational Science Initiative, will prepare Ohio to be a leader in solving this problem.

3. Questions on the Ralph Regula School of Computational Science

3.a. What is the Ralph Regula School of Computational Science?

The Ralph Regula School of Computational Science will be a statewide, virtual school focused on computational science. It is a collaboration between the Ohio Board of Regents, Ohio Supercomputer Center, the Ohio Learning Network, and Ohio's colleges and universities. The school will act as a coordinating entity for a variety of computational science education activities aimed at making education in computational science available across Ohio to students from high school through the master's degree levels as well as to workers seeking continuing education about this technology.

The Ralph Regula School will not offer degrees or certificates on its own--in all cases this will be done by participating colleges and universities. Instead, it will tap the expertise of Ohio's colleges and universities:

  • to develop and maintain curricula for degree programs and certificates;
  • to assist (with the help of the Ohio Learning Network) in using technology to deliver courses and programs in the most convenient and effective way for students;
  • to ensure that the flow of knowledge between higher education and business is two-way, so that insights gained from the workplace enter the curriculum as quickly as possible; and
  • to support innovative ideas for strengthening program effectiveness, such as a Computational Co-Op program that would make it easier for students to work directly with business and industry while actively pursuing a degree.

3.b. Why is a statewide school needed?

A statewide school can ensure that all partners have the capabilities that none would have individually and help ensure that computational science programs can be developed with a minimum amount of duplication of facilities and expertise. The value of statewide partnerships has been demonstrated by Ohio's long history of creating university and college consortia. Our institutions have gotten together to create a shared library organization, a shared network, and a distributed learning system, as well as organizations to address other challenges. In each case, the result of the collaboration of the state's universities and colleges has been programs and resources that are better than any one school could create on its own. Statewide collaboration has now been made easier with the OSCnet. The OSCnet offers new opportunities to build on Ohio's collaborative spirit. It improves the ability of the colleges and universities to share information and collaborate making it easier to create a consortium of institutions which want to collaboratively develop and delivery computational science programs around Ohio.

3.c. How will the School expand access to the opportunity to learn about computational science?

The following are the first projects or programs that will be managed by the Ralph Regula School:

  • Undergraduate Minor Project - OSC, Capital University, and OLN are leading a National Science Foundation-sponsored project to develop an undergraduate minor in computational science. The two-year student program improves and standardizes undergraduate computational sciences course curriculum at Ohio's two- and four-year institutions. The $250,000 is implemented in partnership with Columbus State Community College, Sinclair Community College, Kent State University, The Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, Central State University, Wittenberg University, and Wilberforce University.
  • Associate Degree Project - OSC, Owens Community College, Sinclair Community College, and Stark State College are partnering to develop an associate degree program in computational science. The $695,000 NSF-funded project will develop programs that constitute the middle two years of an articulation from the high schools to the community colleges and four-year colleges and universities, including courses and materials, a model articulation agreement from high school through baccalaureate programs, professional development for faculty and a model for a shared program that can be replicated nationally.
  • Project Lead the Way (PLTW) - PLTW has developed a four-year sequence of courses. When combined with college preparatory mathematics and science courses in high school, these courses will introduce students to the scope, rigor and discipline of engineering and engineering technology prior to entering college. OSC and the Regents are working with PLTW to develop a new course in computational science.
  • Ohio Computational Science Lecture Series - This lecture series is held at various locations around the state and is carried live via Internet H.323 video and streaming video. OSC welcomes the participation of faculty, students and businesses from around the state that are interested in computational modeling and its application in research, education, and industry.
  • Engaging People In Cyberinfrastructure (EPIC) - OSC has partnered with national leaders in high performance computing and networking to build human capacity by creating awareness of the opportunities afforded through Cyberinfrastructure (CI). EPIC will also educate and train a diverse group of people in all stages of life from K-12 to professional practice to fully participate in the CI community as developers, users, and leaders.

It is expected that as the School is developed it will engage in a number of other educational programs. These include internships, a co-op program, certificate programs and a professional master's degree in computational science.

3.d. How will the School be funded?

Initial funding has been provided through a Congressional grant and a NSF grant. It is expected that much of the future funding will come from federal and foundation grants. The School will also be able to leverage previous investments in the educational capacity of Ohio's universities and colleges.

3.e. How can higher education institutions get involved with the Ralph Regula School?

The Ralph Regula School will be guided by a number of advisory groups which will be made up of representatives from higher education institutions. Institutions which are interested in becoming a part of this consortium are asked to contact Steve Gordon at the Ohio Supercomputer Center, 614-292-4132.

3.f. How will industry be involved?

The Ralph Regula School of Computational Science will take the lead in meeting businesses need for personnel skilled in computational science. When funding becomes available, it is expected that the School will also assist businesses through internships and co-op programs for students, and continuing education programs for business staff. The School will also maintain an industry advisory group that will offer advice on computational science programs.

3.g. How is K-12 involved?

Computational science offers many opportunities for helping to improve K-12 science education. For example, it creates the possibility of having students interact with models of molecules. As a starting point, the School is working with the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program within Tech Prep. PLTW is a three- to four-year tech prep, pre-engineering program. The School is working on a course in computational science that can be an elective for students in the PLTW program.

3.h. Why is the School named after Congressman Regula?

Ohio Congressman Ralph Regula has had a distinguished career in public service that spans more than four decades. In 2004, the people of Ohio's 16th Congressional District selected him to his 17th term. Prior to his service in the U.S. House of Representatives, Regula was a teacher and principal in the public school system, a lawyer in his own private practice, a member of the Ohio Board of Education, and a member of the Ohio House and later the Ohio Senate. A respected policymaker, Congressman Regula has long recognized the importance of science education and supported science education initiatives in Ohio. Congressman Regula also has been an energetic and visionary supporter of OSCnet, Ohio Supercomputer Center and computational sciences in Ohio.

3.i. Who is leading this project?

The final organizational structure of the Ralph Regula School of Computational Science will be determined as participants work together over the coming months. It is expected, however, that the School will have its administrative home at the Ohio Supercomputer Center and that it will work closely with the Ohio Learning Network. Regents staff, as is typical with new undertakings of this sort, will have a very active role in the planning and development stages. The staff will provide the Board with regular reports on the School progress and further actions by the Board may be necessary.

3.j. Does the school make use of the OSCnet?

The OSCnet will be used to share computational science courses and related educational materials. In addition, it will be used to provide students with access to computational resources at the Ohio Supercomputer Center. It will also be used by the college faculty as well as the OSC, Regents, and OLN staff who are working together to develop the school's programs.

3.k. Who do I contact for more information about the School?

Contact Steve Gordon at the Ohio Supercomputer Center: 614-292-4132, sgordon@osc.edu.

4. How do Ohio companies use computational science?

A number of companies with ties to Ohio employ computational scientists to increase their industrial productivity. Computational science allows these companies to compete in the global marketplace by reducing costs and time to market while increasing the quality of product and service development. Ohio Supercomputer Center’s Blue Collar Computing™ program provides the innovative computational tools that allow Ohio industries to affordably develop new and improved products and services.

The following industries already use computational science as part of their development processes and their Ohio community connections:

Procter & Gamble (Cincinnati)

  • Redesign Pringles potato crisps so they don’t flutter off moving conveyor belts during production
  • Develop new Folgers AromaSeal* canisters to replace the traditional metal coffee cans

Ford Motor Company (Avon, Cleveland, Lima, Maumee, Batavia, Sharonville)

  • Simulate the crash-worthiness of new vehicle designs
  • Predict noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) performance of powertrain assemblies

Medical Device Solutions (Cleveland)

  • Performs complex computational modeling to create new medical devices

The Kroger Company (Cincinnati)

  • Use biometric finger scanning to pilot retail point-of-sale transactions
  • Employ biometric finger scanning technology to address employee time and attendance issues

Goodyear Tire (Akron)

  • Reduce the cost of physical tire prototypes from 40 percent to 15 percent

General Motors (Cincinnati, Columbus, Defiance, Lordstown, Toledo, Moraine, Parma, Mansfield)

  • Search for ways to convert a vehicle’s waste heat into usable electricity

M-Seven Technologies (Youngstown)

  • Collect and analyze productivity data to help larger manufacturers improve their operations
  • Use precision measurement for metrology inspection, laser scanning, & reverse engineering

GE Aviation (Evendale, Cincinnati, Peebles, Dayton)

  • Model complex turbomachinery to create better, faster, more fuel-efficient jet engines

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (Columbus)

  • Use grid computing to develop mathematical models for pricing, hedging and risk measurement of derivative securities

Ohio CAE Inc. (Cincinnati, Hudson)

  • Develops advanced coupled structural-fluid physics analysis tools for applications such as elastic artery modeling for stent design

Military researchers (Wright-Patterson AFB, NASA Glenn Research Center)

  • Design energy-absorbing seats for armored vehicles to protect soldiers’ ability to survive a mine blast
  • Simulate how chemicals bind to amino acids to develop more effective chemical warfare agent antidotes

Rolls-Royce Energy Business (Mount Vernon)

  • Model the effects of jet engines striking birds in flight and engine behavior following the collisions
  • Track data from sensors on aircraft engines to predict if faults might arise

The Boeing Company (Heath)

  • Create next-generation tools for designing aircraft
  • Design a Delta IV rocket to launch satellites into space

Timken (Canton)

  • Develop improved NASCAR suspension system components and steering system geometries

Cedar Fair [parent company of Cedar Point and King’s Island] (Sandusky)

  • Hired a Swiss contractor to design the Top Thrill Dragster roller coaster using finite element analysis to analyze its structural integrity, biodynamic impacts and aesthetic appeal

Nationwide Insurance Co. (Columbus)

  • Use risk modeling techniques by creating regional climate forecasts to estimate future losses

Jo-Ann Stores (Cleveland)

  • Used computer modeling to evaluate workforce skills, labor pool depth and transportation options in selecting Visalia, Calif., for the location of their West Coast distribution hub

Forensic Bioinformatics Services, Inc. (Fairborn)

  • Provides automated analysis and expert review of forensic DNA evidence