The Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering hosted its annual symposium Tuesday, showcasing the scientific research of University of Michigan students, faculty and professionals from around the world.

The day-long event, held at Rackham Auditorium, featured a number of poster presentations in which students and postdocs discussed their research findings with the public. These presentations were coupled with a series of speakers from computer science and engineering fields.

This year’s symposium theme, New Era of Data-Enabled Computational Science, aimed to highlight some of the latest progress in data-enabled research.

MICDE Director Krishna Garikipati said he hopes the event underscores advances in data-related technology so that attendees can understand what is next for the field of computational science.

“The symposium is a highlight of latest trends in the field of computational science and to project ahead to where we think the field is going,” Garikipati said. “Attendees will hopefully get a picture of where the field has been and where the field is going; we are at a point where the ability to manipulate big data can be used to compute problems in science.”

According to Garikipati, “big data” refers to massive data collections that are too large to fit on a computer. Such data, he said, was incorporated in much of the day’s research.

Postdoctoral mechanical engineer Alauddin Ahmed, whose research focused on creating a new material capable of storing more hydrogen in automobiles, was among the poster presenters. He said such innovations can lead to increased efficiency in hybrid vehicles.

Consistent with this year’s theme, Ahmed said he hopes his presentation will show attendees how valuable data-driven science can be in the real world.

“The goal behind my presentation is to show that data-driven science can participate in many future innovations, designs or new kinds of sciences,” Ahmad said.

At the end of the event, three individuals received monetary prizes for their posters.

The first-place winner was Ph.D. candidate Victor Wu, who created a new method for physicians to plan brachytherapy treatments. Sambit Das, mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate, received second place for his research on the dislocation core in aluminum and magnesium. Joseph Cicchese, a Ph.D. student in chemical engineering, won third place for utilizing computer models to optimize tuberculosis antibiotic treatment.

Wu received $500; Das and Cicchese received $250 each.

MICDE Communications Manager Dan Meisler said the goal of the symposium is not only to teach the University community about recent findings in computer science and engineering, but also to encourage students who are pursuing these fields.

“We want to show people on campus what is going on at the top of the field, and we want to promote University students to showcase their work,” Meisler said.

Among the professional speakers at the event was Jacqueline H. Chen, a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at the Combustion Research facility of Sandia National Laboratories.

She discussed her personal research, which focuses on the science behind building predictive computer models necessary for designing fuel-efficient vehicles, planes and electricity power plants. 

“As we are trying to get higher efficiencies, we have to pay more attention to the behavior of new fuels and their interaction with the environment,” Chen said.

Ryan Kitson, aerospace engineering Ph.D. student, said he enjoyed listening to professionals who work in the industry because they offered perspectives from a variety of disciplines.

“Taking in all these talks, listening to their perspectives on what the industry is, on the largest scale, and the future directions of the industry are interesting,” Kitson said. “This brings together people from all across campus and the different departments.”

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