UTSA wins $5 million in stimulus funds for new interdisciplinary center

UTSA students Madhulika Jupelli (top) and Gregor Weber (Photos by Mark McClendon)

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(Aug. 31, 2009)--A collaborative team of researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio has won a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish the Simulation, Visualization and Real-time Prediction (SiViRT) Center for interdisciplinary computer-based research, education and training. The five-year grant funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act is the largest stimulus award UTSA has received to date.

"The SiViRT Center will offer a platform for engineering, science, statistics, biology and medicine experts from across the university and South Texas to conduct fundamental and collaborative research with real-world applications," said Efstathios (Stathis) Michaelides, the grant's principal investigator and professor and chair of the UTSA Department of Mechanical Engineering. "In addition, by offering lectures, scholarships and the opportunity to work on serious research projects, the SiViRT Center will attract students of all levels from those attending high school on up to those pursuing their doctorate degrees."

The UTSA SiViRT Center aims to:

  • Integrate the computer simulation research that UTSA currently conducts in the College of Engineering and College of Sciences
  • Provide infrastructure and leadership to develop interdisciplinary programs in computational research and education
  • Develop collaborative relations within UTSA, with the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and with other regional, national and international institutions
  • Attract minority and graduate students to engineering and science careers
  • Enhance the diversity of UTSA graduate programs by improving the retention of underrepresented minorities
  • Prepare the next generation of engineers and scientists to solve scientific and engineering challenges using computer-based methods, systems and simulations

Because of its interdisciplinary nature, the SiViRT center will not be housed in one location. Its group of senior and junior researchers will be assigned to one of three teams, each led by a member of the engineering faculty. Those teams include the imaging team led by Sos Agaian, Peter Flawn Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering; the real-time prediction team led by Yusheng Feng, associate professor of mechanical engineering; and the uncertainty quantification team led by Harry Millwater, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

Operationally, the SiViRT Center imaging team will create new theory and efficient methods and procedures to advance the center's overall imaging capabilities. Simultaneously, the center's real-time prediction team will establish a framework for real-time control and prediction that can be applied to cancer treatment modeling, surgical control, intelligent unmanned vehicles and other areas. Finally, the uncertainty quantification team will establish a framework to calculate the level of uncertainty of various engineering systems including bone fractures, nanofluid heat transfer systems, structural elements and nanoparticle transport systems.

"Not only will the SiViRT Center enhance the research capabilities of UTSA faculty by encouraging collaboration between our colleges, but it will provide support to the talented students who will become the next generation of researchers and university educators," said Robert Gracy, UTSA vice president for research.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 is an economic recovery package adopted to help states stabilize budgets and stimulate economic growth. Stimulus funding will be allocated, in part, to modernize health care, improve schools, modernize infrastructure and invest in the clean energy technologies of the future.