Summer Academy to teach modeling and simulation skills to Ohio high school students, teachers

Akron, Columbus programs to tap the expertise of supercomputing, engineering staffs

Columbus, Ohio – February 19, 2008 – A Summer Academy in Computational Science and Engineering will teach sophisticated computer modeling and simulation skills to 40 Ohio high school students and ten teachers, thanks to a grant announced today by the Ohio Board of Regents.

Participants will learn about the importance of modeling and simulation to the solution of science and engineering problems, acquire the basic modeling and programming skills required of freshman engineering students, enhance their communication skills and apply those skills to understand and reinforce important concepts in mathematics, scientific experimentation and design.

“Computational science and the use of modeling and simulation have been cited by prominent state and federal committees and panels as keys to continued competitiveness in science and engineering,” said Steve Gordon, director of the Ralph Regula School.

“While previous investments in computational science have been primarily targeted at the solution of what are called ‘grand scientific challenges,’ it is now time to apply computational science technologies to the challenges facing business and industry. With programs like this, we are helping to make Ohio a national leader in the application of computational science.”

One well-known example of computational science is modern weather forecasting, where vast amounts of data are combined with sets of mathematical formulas in a computer program called a weather model to develop forecasts. These forecasts are far more accurate and timely than were possible before computer modeling was available.

Another important example 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 and testing physical prototypes.

The Regents STEM and Foreign Language Academies grant program was created in response to House Bill 115 of the 126th General Assembly, which supports the implementation of the Ohio Core through initiatives designed to increase teacher capacity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and foreign language. Additionally, the measure provides opportunities for more high school students, particularly those who currently may not aspire to attend college or to study career in the STEM fields, to engage in advanced learning opportunities for college and high school credit in these disciplines.

“The Regents STEM and Foreign Language Academies align with Governor Strickland’s Turnaround Ohio Plan,” Fingerhut said. “The state has dedicated significant funds to STEM education and the academies will help Ohioans fully participate in today’s global economy.”

Staff of the Ralph Regula School of Computational Science at the Ohio Supercomputer Center in Columbus will lead the Summer Academy in Computational Science and Engineering. Professors John Demel and Michael Parke from the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University will oversee program preparation and instruction for 20 students and five teachers at the OSU site. Professors Edward Evans and Julie Zhao from the College of Engineering at the University of Akron will oversee program preparation and instruction for a similar number of participants at the Akron site.

The two-week, non-residential summer program (June 16 – July 2, 2008) will consist of a combination of short lectures, individual project assignments, physical experiments and data gathering, and a capstone group final project. The mix of activities and projects is designed to keep students engaged and actively learning by involving them in solving “real world” problems using the techniques and technical skills presented in short lectures, readings or discussions.

The program will continue through the academic year with mentoring and additional work on projects for the students and two Saturday events focusing on more sophisticated approaches to modeling and simulation and improvements in the student's own projects. Student participants will receive three semester hours of undergraduate credit and at least a half credit from their high schools. Application forms for the program are available at www.rrscs.org/summer_academy.

Teachers will learn how to integrate modeling and simulation into their classrooms, how to teach the materials associated with this course, and how to apply project-based learning to enhance their own classrooms. In addition to working with academy students during the summer and throughout the follow-up year, the teachers also will provide feedback on the materials, presentations, and comprehension of the students to assist academy staff accurately update and revise the course materials.  Teachers will receive three semester hours of graduate credit for their participation.

Celebrating 20 years of service, the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) is a catalytic partner of Ohio universities and industries that provides a reliable high performance computing and high performance networking infrastructure for a diverse statewide/regional community including education, academic research, industry, and state government. Funded by the Ohio Board of Regents, OSC promotes and stimulates computational research and education in order to act as a key enabler for the state's aspirations in advanced technology, information systems, and advanced industries. For additional information, visit http://www.osc.edu.