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 Media contact:  
 Phillip Rollfing  

$125,000 for
viz professors

NSF funds visualization professors’
engineering tool design project


Texas A&M visualization science professors Don House and Vinod Srinivasan are collaborating with A&M civil engineering faculty to develop a visualization/simulation tool that will allow engineering students to observe the dynamic load performance of mechanical models.

The study, "Multiple Models for Civil Engineering Dynamics," is funded by a two-year, $125,000 National Science Foundation educational research grant. The A&M team’s proposal was one of 70 to receive NSF funding out of 844 submitted this year to the NSF’s Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program.

The civil engineering faculty working with House and Srinivasan are James Morgan (PI), Luciana Barossa, and Giovanna Biscontin. They teach a course in building systems in which students study the dynamic performance of building structures.

“We are developing an interactive simulation/visualization tool to be used in the classroom to teach students concepts of dynamics,” explained Srinivasan. “This is not just a simulation software but an educational software, intended to be used by both instructors and students. Users will be able to create a schematic of a mechanical system, tweak and measure various parameters and simulate the performance of the system under various load conditions.”

The goal of the project, said Srinivasan, is to enhance student learning and understanding of the concepts related to dynamic behavior of buildings.

“The word ‘dynamic’ implies motion or movement,” added House. “Static analysis can determine if a structure is strong enough to handle a given load, dynamic analysis can tell how the building might perform in wind, earthquakes, or any situation that would induce motion.”

Though the portion of the project that House and Srinivasan are working on deals with virtual models, the proposal also includes funding for creating actual physical models to be used in conjunction with the software.

“The models are simplified versions of actual real-world structures or systems,” Srinivasan said. “One of the goals of the project’s visualization component is to be able to link different parts of the schematic representations to the real object models.

This is a “Phase I” NSF grant for pilot projects. If the results are favorable, the researchers will be eligible to apply for Phase II funding, for up to $500,000 over two to five years, and then Phase III funding, which allows up to $2 million over three to five years.

“We will definitely be submitting proposals for subsequent phases,” said Srinivasan.

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Don House

Vinod Srinivasan

A diagram showing the problem progressions and how the proposed engineering tool might bridge the disconnect between knowledge and application

A preliminary design for the user interface

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