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  REU Site: Interdisciplinary Program in High Performance Computing

Program Details for Summer 2015 - June 15 to August 07, 2015


The REU Site: Interdisciplinary Program in High Performance Computing is located in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at UMBC, a suburban campus just southwest of Baltimore, Maryland, in the heart of the Baltimore-Washington corridor of industry and government. The program is comprised of learning scientific, parallel, and statistical computing and of project work on interdisciplinary applications. All activities of the program are conducted by teams of students, closely supported by graduate teaching and reseach assistants as well as faculty.

For updates on the program, please check back at this webpage. If you have specific questions, do not hesitate to send an e-mail to Here is a printer-friendly flier in PDF format. We invite you to peruse the tabs for the programs from 2010 to 2014 above to see the research projects chosen that year, a list of special events including field trips, and an extensive photo album. This description tries to give the most realistic and concrete impression of the activities throughout the program from a student perspective. Or watch the YouTube Movie with opening remarks by our university president and testimonials from two 2010 participants, graciously produced for us by the UMBC New Media studio.

Key Elements:

  • Summer 2015: Monday, June 15 to Friday, August 07, 2015; travel to UMBC and move-in to campus housing on Sunday, June 14, 2015; check-out and travel home Friday, August 07, 2015. See detailed schedule and below for more information on the program and the activities planned.
  • Instruction and research training for a certificate in high performance computing granted by UMBC Training Centers. Includes introduction to tools of scientific and statistical computing (C, Linux, MATLAB, R, LaTeX) and access to a state-of-the-art parallel cluster with high performance interconnect in the UMBC High Performance Computing Facility (HPCF).
  • Interdisciplinary projects with clients from industry and government agencies through the Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Consulting (CIRC).
  • All work is performed in teams of (about) four participants with support by dedicated graduate assistants and faculty mentors.
  • The research culminates in a technical report published on HPCF Publications webpage, visual aids for oral presentations, a poster, and a webpage.
  • A full professional development program including scientific field trips to local government agencies, presentations on career choices and graduate school application, professional development workshops (resume/CV writing, publication in the mathematical sciences, professional integrity, informal career advice, and more), and a GRE preparation workshop.
  • UMBC is located in the Baltimore-Washington corridor of industry and government agencies; more information about the area is also avaliable here: UMBC Visitor's Guide, Attractions in Baltimore, Attractions in Washington. Social field trips include the famous Independence Day fireworks on the National Mall in Washington.

Formal Details:

  • Earned a minimum of 30 college credits with a GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale before begin of program.
  • Provide transcript of college credits (inofficial transcript suffices) upon selection.
  • Participate in the summer research experience full-time.
  • Housing is in groups of four participants in campus apartments that have four individual bedrooms and shared common areas including kitchen and bathroom.
  • Pre-requisites: courses in Calculus (differential and integral), Linear Algebra, Basic Probability and Statistics, and Introduction to Programming completed before begin of program.
  • Application deadline extended to March 15, 2015 by online application!

Progam Benefits and Requirements for Supported Participation:

  • Program stipend $4,000
  • UMBC campus housing and food allowance provided
  • Travel allowance provided
  • Textbooks and GRE course book included
  • Paid expenses for instruction and research training for certificate in high performance computing
  • Eligibility Requirements for Supported Participation:
    • be a continuing undergraduate student at an accredited academic institution in the U.S. (i.e., still be a student in the fall semester following the program; this is an NSF requirement and cannot be waived)
    • provide documentation of U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency (this is a requirement for funding support from U.S. federal sources)

More Information on the Program and its Detailed Schedule

The detailed schedule gives an overview of the topics involved with the program and the activities planned during the 8 weeks of this REU Site program. In a first phase during Weeks 1 and 2, students will focus on learning scientific, parallel, and statistical computing. A second phase focuses on project work on interdisciplinary applications. Week 8 is a third phase that is dedicated to preparing a technical report and a poster presentation of the work. This description tries to give the most realistic and concrete impression of the activities throughout the program from a student perspective.

All activities of the program will be conducted in teams of about four students, closely supported in all phases by graduate teaching and reseach assistants as well as by the directors of the program. The structured learning of scientific, parallel, and statistical computing will consist of classes, each of which is immediately followed by team work in a computer lab, during which the teams will work on assignments with the support of a graduate TA.

During Weeks 1 and 2, teams will learn about several possible interdisciplinary projects with clients from application areas outside of the mathematical sciences. Examples of clients include faculty from other departments such as mechanical engineering or biology, researchers from industrial companies such as AT&T Bell Labs, researchers from government agencies or research labs such as the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Census Bureau, or the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The project work will start during Week 3 and be the focus of Weeks 4, 5, 6, and 7. To make the final product of a technical report in Week 8 feasible, we will implement a learning-by-writing approach, in which one section of the report each is due by end of Weeks 4, 5, 6, and 7. The team work on the interdisciplinary projects will be supported closely by a graduate assistant and a faculty mentor for each team. Throughout the program, there will be plenty of opportunities to interact with all members of the program both in formal project updates, informal brainstorming sessions, and more. We also plan on scientific field trips to interesting sites, for instance, the National Security Agency, a client's organization, and similar, in addition to social field trips, for instance, to the July 4 fireworks in Washington and the Baltimore Inner Harbor.

The last week of the program, Week 8, is dedicated to assembling the results of the project work. A technical report that will be posted on the Publications page of the UMBC High Performance Computing Facility will serve as the citable result of the work as well as the basis for the product delivered to the client. This technical report can also be an excellent basis for a journal article such as for the SIAM Undergraduate Research Online (SIURO) journal. Additionally, the work will be presented as a research poster at the Summer Undergraduate Research Fest (SURF) hosted by the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences (CNMS) on Wednesday of Week 8.

The program also includes additional material presented to help support the project activities and to broaden the horizons for graduate school, such as an overview of the mathematical typesetting system LaTeX and other tools for presentations and report writing, a discussion of professional integrity in scientific work, insights into applying to graduate school, a GRE preparation course, and more. All material of this program is designed to include an introduction that assumes very little background in it but also very advanced material that will make it useful for experienced users. These broader aspects of the program are designed to make the project work more effective as well as to provide an excellent preparation for and impression of graduate school.

In total, the program of this REU Site, as summarized in the detailed schedule provides a combination of formal introduction to high performance computing in the mathematical sciences covering aspects of scientific, statistical, and parallel computing with team work on an interdisciplinary application project. This combination of aspects will give participants a powerful and exciting experience of how to combine learning with applying material to project work, all in an atmosphere of mutual support by all members of the project from undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, to clients.