Dordt receives NSF grant

Mikaela Wegner– Staff Writer

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After four years of applying, the Acquisition of a High-Performance Computing Cluster for Interdisciplinary Research and Teaching grant for $249,254 was finally awarded to Dordt University this summer by the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program.

The cluster will be approximately 18 nodes and is meant for research projects among various science programs. Dr. Manuela Ayee, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Dordt, said the cluster will be used for different types of computer simulation work, research, and teaching.

“Having this resource on campus just opens up a whole world of possibilities and opportunities”

Although Dordt purchased a cluster in 2015, Dr. Nick Breems, Professor of Computer Science at Dordt, said the previous cluster was a relatively small four-node cluster.

This new cluster will provide faster and better resources for projects in comparison to the five-year old four-node cluster and will be used in classes on engineering, physics, biology, chemistry, and other subjects.

“Having this resource on campus just opens up a whole world of possibilities and opportunities for high school students that are thinking about coming to school at because high performance computing is some of the most cutting edge technology in science and research,” Dr. Ayee said.

Apart from the conventional sciences, Dr. Breems is excited to use the cluster for his systems programming course. Dr. Breems said his students won’t just be using the cluster for the science but for the sake of learning how to use it. There will be collaboration between Dr. Breems and other users to find example problems students can solve. This will be a struggle in and of itself, as they will need to come up with problems requiring that much power.

“For a chemistry or biology student to be able to say,‘I have experienced running models and simulations on a large scale cluster.’ that absolutely will look great on a resume, certainly for people looking at grad school.” Breems said.

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