FORT WAYNE, Ind.—The Talent Initiative announced today that it will disburse grant funds in the amount of $500,000 to the College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science’s (ETCS) Department of Computer Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). The funds will establish the Information Analytics and Visualization Center (IAVC), a new research and development center.
According to Professor Beomjin Kim, who will be leading projects in information visualization, the Center “will provide state-of-the-art resources for faculty and students to engage in multidisciplinary projects to create visualizations and construct virtual environments for education, training, and simulation.”
Planned resources include a cluster of high-speed computers— similar to those used to make the movie Avatar — to perform the complex calculations needed to create high-quality 3D images, and a sophisticated 3D projection system to create a life-sized virtual environment. These will be augmented by a variety of interactive devices such as 3D glasses, data gloves, eye-tracking equipment, wide-screen monitors, and head-mounted displays.
In describing the goals of IVAC, Professor Peter Ng, chair of the Computer Science Department, stated, “The Center will actively seek partnerships with local and regional business, industry, and government enterprises to collaborate on projects of mutual interest.” Such projects may focus on discovering patterns in very large collections of data, performing usability studies of 3D interfaces, or creating new ways to extract and organize information gleaned from Web pages. The IAVC will also serve as the home for an exciting new branch of research, people-centric sensing, based on cell phone technology.
“People-centric sensing will give us the opportunity to gather, visualize, and share information about ourselves, those around us, and the world we live in,” says Professor David Liu, the Computer Science Department’s director of graduate studies. The anticipated collaborative research projects will provide research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students.
Along with an active research program, the IAVC will also offer seminars and workshops addressing contemporary research, technology, and applications in the areas of information visualization, data mining, semantic computing, usability engineering, machine learning, and network modeling and analysis.
“Establishing this cutting edge visualization lab will further the Talent Initiative’s efforts of broadening the base of local engineering talent in Northeast Indiana,” said Leonard Helfrich, executive director of the Talent Initiative. “It will increase our ability to attract and sustain globally competitive businesses and strengthen our region’s position as a hub for the aerospace and defense industries.”
Bruce Menshy, director of operations at Raytheon Co. stated, “The collaboration between IPFW and the local defense industry on the Information Analytics and Visualization Center design is a win-win for the region. It allows current industry needs to be addressed in the classroom and enhances local research capability.”
The disbursement of funds to IPFW directly aligns with one of the Talent Initiative’s four key strategies: to expand engineering-related programs at IPFW in partnership with the defense/aerospace employers of Northeast Indiana. The goal of this strategy is to ultimately increase the pipeline of regionally-developed engineering talent by building capacity in higher education.
The Talent Initiative is a 10-county regional program established in 2009 by a $20 million grant from the Lilly Endowment. The grant funds are all focused on accelerating education and training initiatives in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.