JOHN DAVIES: CIVS provides innovative solutions beyond engineering

2013-04-14T00:00:00Z JOHN DAVIES: CIVS provides innovative solutions beyond engineeringBy John Davies
April 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

This is a place where ideas and complexity come to life on the screen from the beauty of intricate French poetry to the grandeur of a massive blast furnace.

For the uninformed, this could be just another Hollywood production reserved for Friday night pizza except for this important fact. This is “virtual reality” based upon a space-age science called computational fluid dynamics that studies structure, process and data of how things really work.

As you wear your 3D glasses in this theater, you realize something transformative is happening as you see the poetry of “Correspondences” by Baudelaire or the world’s first virtual blast furnace unfold before your eyes.

Welcome to the world of the Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation, better known as CIVS, at Purdue University Calumet.

Why this is important is that complex data and processes previously understood only by a few are now animated through the integration of simulation and visualization. Even the meaning and structure of poetry can be better visualized, plus a vast array of other needs for innovative solutions. These include city planning and marketing; renewable energy, virtual training and education; and industrial troubleshooting.

As one civil engineering student noted studying groundwater, the 3D model from CIVS evoked this response: “Now that I can see it, I understand it.”

It’s to our advantage that Northwest Indiana and Purdue are home to this technology. Clearly, this is a powerful tool for economic development.

I mean no disrespect, but the first time I saw the “historic” virtual blast furnace on the big screen, I asked myself, “Is this Northwest Indiana?”

Absolutely! This is thanks to the university and especially to Chenn Q. Zhou, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the integration, application and learning of visualization and simulation.

She tells the story of promoting the science of computational fluid dynamics to industry for a decade, and now this is widely accepted as a problem-solving tool. But CFD, as it is called, just went to the next level thanks to CIVS, which is bringing data to life in gorgeous color and amazing imagery.

Chenn is our own globe-trotting professional who shuns the limelight by crediting her team and university. How fortunate to have a scientist of this stature shining new light on Northwest Indiana as a problem-solving industrial region of the world.

When I met with her recently, the founding CIVS director had just returned from China. She has also keynoted conferences from Rio to Brussels, and each time she speaks, the image of this region shines a little brighter.

We congratulate CIVS on being named the co-recipient of the Chanute Prize for Team Innovation from The Society of Innovators. The award is sponsored by Krieg DeVault and NIPSCO.

I think I’ll just call CIVS the “Wow!” team.

John Davies is managing director of the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana, which is part of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center of Ivy Tech Northwest. The opinions are the writer's.

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