Public Release: 

Illinois Named To DOE's Academic Strategic Alliances Program

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Department of Energy announced in Washington, D.C., today (July 31) that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of five universities chosen to participate in the Academic Strategic Alliances Program, a $250 million, 10-year initiative to create an unprecedented level of modeling and simulation capabilities.

The program -- part of DOE's Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI) -- will develop the advanced computational systems needed to certify the safety and reliability of America's nuclear weapons stockpile without underground testing. The program was announced during an 11 a.m. news conference at the DOE headquarters, 1000 Independence Ave., S.W.

As currently planned, five Centers of Excellence will produce computer-based science and technology results to support DOE's science-based stockpile stewardship program. The Center for Simulation of Advanced Rockets, directed by Michael Heath, professor of computer science, will be located at the U. of I.

The U. of I.'s center will focus on the detailed, whole-system simulation of solid-propellant rockets under both normal and abnormal operating conditions. Work at the center will contribute to a better understanding of composite energetic materials, including their ignition, combustion, shock physics, structural behavior and quantum chemistry. The research at the center also will benefit numerous aerospace applications such as in the design, safety and reliability testing of new solid rockets.

"The new Center for Simulation of Advanced Rockets fits perfectly within the long tradition of computational science and engineering at Illinois," said Heath, also a senior research scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the U. of I.

"The center will greatly enhance interdisciplinary collaboration among our faculty and students and will produce simulation capabilities on an unprecedented scale," Heath said. "We welcome this opportunity, which promises a broad range of benefits, including basic scientific research, aerospace applications, and the computational capabilities necessary for DOE's stockpile stewardship program."

U. of I. Chancellor Michael Aiken expects the center's work to be a model for federal-university partnerships in science.

"This center will help ensure the safety and efficiency of the nation's solid-propellant rockets, while providing an opportunity for Illinois graduate students to participate in exciting scientific work," Aiken said.

The U. of I. center will receive approximately $40 million over 10 years. The center will support the work of as many as 80 faculty members, students and research associates.

In addition to the U. of I., the other institutions chosen to participate in the program are the California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of Chicago and the University of Utah. The schools were selected through an open, competitive process that began in December 1996.

High-performance computer-based modeling and simulation is becoming an essential "third research methodology" in many scientific and engineering areas, proving to be a powerful and indispensable partner with theoretical and experimental studies in gaining a fundamental understanding of many scientific problems and engineering systems.

On Aug. 11, 1995, President Clinton announced the United States' intention to pursue a "zero-yield" Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty "through a science-based stockpile stewardship program without nuclear testing." This program is a key component of ASCI strategy to shift promptly from nuclear test-based methods to computation-based methods. ASCI will create the leading-edge computational modeling and simulation capabilities that are essential for maintaining the safety, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear stockpile and for reducing nuclear danger.

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