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08/28/2002 - WSU Spokane Grant Advances Undergraduates

The leap from regular computing to parallel computing is like the driver of the Riverfront Park Choo Choo being handed the keys to drive a BNSF locomotive over the high bridge. Two lucky undergraduate students will be given the opportunity to make this leap, and be paid for it, next summer --- thanks to a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. Paul Schimpf, PhD, associate professor of engineering at WSU Spokane, has received a $12,000 NSF supplemental grant to support undergraduate students. The grant is to be used for salaries and will be available next summer, 2003. The undergraduates who get the summer job will help Schimpf with his research involving parallel computing

According to Schimpf, engineering companies hiring new graduates sometimes complain that new engineers are not sufficiently “trained.” “Engineering programs necessarily require a lot of math and theory,” Schimpf explains. This means that beginning engineering students may have to cram more math classes into an already heavily booked schedule leaving little time for “real world” training. With this grant, Schimpf hopes to help alleviate this inexperience problem.

According to Schimpf, engineering needs a lot of numerical work as opposed to the analytical work of graduate mathematics. So much numerical work, in fact, that a single computer often isn’t sufficiently powerful, and distributed (parallel) computing is needed to get results in a reasonable length of time. The engineer needs to know how to set up the problem for the computer, and then know when the results are realistic. To approach the computer, they must turn a differential equation into a linear algebra problem, and then use parallel computing to get the numerical solution.

The undergraduate candidates for the WSU Spokane research position may be in computer science, electrical engineering, or computer engineering. The position is not restricted to WSU students, but can be an undergraduate from another university. The job candidates would apply as they would for any other job. The new hires may be assigned work in parallel computing, web development, or algorithm development. Job duration will be three months at the WSU Spokane usual rate of pay.

This $12,000 grant extends Schimpf’s existing $400,000 NSF grant for research titled “ITR/Comp Bio: Computational Tools for Inverse Electromagnetic Problems.”

For more information about Dr. Schimpf’s research, go to: and

Billie Moreland
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