Engineering students worldwide learn new skills using Penn State’s supercomputerPosted on June 22, 2018
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. — Students throughout the world are learning about ways they can simulate and test car crashes, new materials and products in a mechanical engineering course taught online through Penn State World Campus, ME 461: Finite Elements in Engineering. They are analyzing complex engineering scenarios with help from Penn State’s high-performance computing system, or supercomputer, known as the Institute for CyberScience Advanced CyberInfrastructure (ICS-ACI).
Reuben Kraft, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering and biomedical engineering and ICS faculty co-hire, teaches his students how to use different software on the ICS-ACI system to help them learn the principles of finite element analysis (FEA). Through this computerized way of solving problems, engineers and scientists predict how an object reacts to real-world forces like vibration, heat and mechanical impact.
For example, companies use FEA to test product designs without having to physically create them. This reduces design and manufacturing costs, analyzes various situations like drops or heat tolerance, improves product performance, and brings products to the market faster.
Students spend time first learning the theory of FEA and then once a week have an online lab, using ICS-ACI, where they can apply what they have learned. They model advanced problems such as car crash impacts, plastic deformation and heat transfer.
Dana Frye, a structural analyst for General Dynamics Electric Boat, said his favorite part of the class was these practical applications.
“One of the last applications involved simulating a truck crash, which was a very large and computationally expensive analysis, which would have taken ages [to run] on my personal computer,” Frye said. “It was pretty awesome to be on my laptop in another state and still be able to patch into the ICS-ACI and take advantage of all of that computing power.”
Frye said that he enjoyed taking advantage of the computing available through ICS while he was taking Penn State courses. Any Penn State student, faculty or staff member with an ICS-ACI account can use the system for free through the “Open Queue” feature, which allows people to submit jobs to idle computing resources.
Frye spent time exploring programs such as Abaqus, a software suite for FEA and computer-aided engineering; MATLAB, a high-level language and interactive environment for numerical computation; and Mathematica, a fully integrated software environment for technical and scientific computing.
Kraft uses practical applications in his course because the hands-on approach lets students test whether they have really learned a concept.
“When I was exposed to finite element analysis, it wasn’t through a class or a textbook. It was through solving a problem that somebody gave me. I was stumbling around, flipping through manuals and asking people for help,” Kraft said. “That memory became a useful perspective on the class because by solving problems, it makes you think about how it works and motivates you to learn the theory.”
Natalie Hoopes said she has already applied what she learned in her job as a structures engineer at Pratt & Whitney, working within the aerospace industry. Like Frye, she remembers the applications, which were the “hands-on” part of the class.
“Dr. Kraft would demonstrate how to create a finite element model and the theories behind it, which showed the practical application of the class,” said Hoopes, a graduate student in the online Penn State World Campus mechanical engineering master’s degree program.
When Kraft first began teaching the class five years ago, he had his students install certain software on their personal computers. He ran into issues of outdated, slow machines or ones that were unable to run the software at all. Turning to ICS-ACI eased the process of getting students on a high-performance computing system. By using ICS-ACI, his students are able to work from anywhere at any time.
“You don’t have to worry about installing software or the speed of someone’s computer,” Kraft said. “There is no issue of computer overhead, which makes the process easier.”
Kraft said that students may struggle a little in the first few weeks due to the difficult nature of FEA and having to learn a new system, but once they understand the material and software they begin to truly enjoy the class.
“Just understanding how to log on, open a module and load software is a new concept for many students,” Kraft said. “My metric for success is whether or not a student can take a random problem, create a finite element model of it and then explain a little bit of the theory behind it.”
Kraft’s goal is for students leaving ME 461 to be prepared for real-world experiences in the world of high-performance computing, which is important for students entering the workforce and industry. Several students have stated that the class helped them with their job search. The class allows students to become familiar with these systems, which greatly benefits them later down the road in their jobs as engineers for various industries across the United States and the world.
“I have students from all over the country and the world taking this class online,” Kraft said. “None of this would be possible without ICS-ACI.”
- SMH! Brains trained on e-devices may struggle to understand scientific info
- Multi-institutional team to use AI to evaluate social, behavioral science claims
- NSF invests in cyberinfrastructure institute to harness cosmic data
- Center for Immersive Experiences set to debut, serving researchers and students
- Distant Suns, Distant Worlds
- CyberScience Seminar: Researcher to discuss how AI can help people avoid adverse drug interactions
- AI could offer warnings about serious side effects of drug-drug interactions
- Taking RTKI drugs during radiotherapy may not aid survival, worsens side effects
- Cost-effective cloud research computing options now available for researchers
- Costs of natural disasters are increasing at the high end
- Model helps choose wind farm locations, predicts output
- Virus may jump species through ‘rock-and-roll’ motion with receptors
- Researchers seek to revolutionize catalyst design with machine learning
- Resilient Resumes team places third in Nittany AI Challenge
- ‘AI in Action’: Machine learning may help scientists explore deep sleep
- Clickbait Secrets Exposed! Humans and AI team up to improve clickbait detection
- Focusing computational power for more accurate, efficient weather forecasts
- How many Earth-like planets are around sun-like stars?
- Professor receives NSF grant to model cell disorder in heart
- Whole genome sequencing may help officials get a handle on disease outbreaks
- New tool could reduce security analysts’ workloads by automating data triage
- Careful analysis of volcano’s plumbing system may give tips on pending eruptions
- Reducing farm greenhouse gas emissions may plant the seed for a cooler planet
- Using artificial intelligence to detect discrimination
- Four ways scholars say we can cut the chances of nasty satellite data surprises
- Game theory shows why stigmatization may not make sense in modern society
- Older adults can serve communities as engines of everyday innovation
- Pig-Pen effect: Mixing skin oil and ozone can produce a personal pollution cloud
- Researchers find genes that could help create more resilient chickens
- Despite dire predictions, levels of social support remain steady in the U.S.
- For many, friends and family, not doctors, serve as a gateway to opioid misuse
- New algorithm may help people store more pictures, share videos faster
- Head named for Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering
- Scientific evidence boosts action for activists, decreases action for scientists
- People explore options, then selectively represent good options to make difficult decisions
- Map reveals that lynching extended far beyond the deep South
- Gravitational forces in protoplanetary disks push super-Earths close to stars
- Supercomputer cluster donation helps turn high school class into climate science research lab
- Believing machines can out-do people may fuel acceptance of self-driving cars
- People more likely to trust machines than humans with their private info
- IBM donates system to Penn State to advance AI research
- ICS Seed Grants to power projects that use AI, machine learning for common good
- Penn State Berks team advances to MVP Phase of Nittany AI Challenge
- Creepy computers or people partners? Working to make AI that enhances humanity
- Sky is clearing for using AI to probe weather variability
- ‘AI will see you now’: Panel to discuss the AI revolution in health and medicine
- Privacy law scholars must address potential for nasty satellite data surprises
- Researchers take aim at hackers trying to attack high-value AI models
- Girls, economically disadvantaged less likely to get parental urging to study computers
- Seed grants awarded to projects using Twitter data
- Researchers find features that shape mechanical force during protein synthesis
- A peek at living room decor suggests how decorations vary around the world
- Interactive websites may cause antismoking messages to backfire
- Changing how government assesses risk may ease fallout from extreme financial events
- Algorithm aims to alert consumers before they use illicit online pharmacies
- Using cues and actions to help people get along with artificial intelligence
- ICS associate thinks ‘people will notice’ Net Neutrality Day of Action