The Birmingham Environment for Academic Research (BEAR) was set up as a central forum to advance academic research within the University, with ClusterVision being selected as the main solution integrator for its impressive High Performance Computing (HPC) facilities.
At the heart of BEAR's HPC capability is the BlueBEAR IBM compute cluster. Originally opened as Phase-1 in 2007, today BlueBEAR comprises over 1500 processing cores (AMD Opteron dual and quad-processors), and 150 terabytes of user storage. The system, which operates on Scientific Linux and includes advanced immersive visualisation capabilities, hosts over 80 commercial and in-house software applications, covering such diverse fields as Manufacturing Simulation, advanced Medical Research, Astrophysics and Archaeology.
"BlueBEAR provides a unique resource to Birmingham's academic community", stated Dr. Andrew Chan, Professor in Computational Engineering, School of Civil Engineering at the University of Birmingham, and Chair of the BEAR User Group. "The projects presented by students at our 2011 Post-Graduate Conference, represent a vast body of scientific research which is addressing many fundamental challenges to our society."
The 2011 Post-Graduate Conference took place at the School of Chemical Engineering, and was attended by around 60 people. In his opening address, Professor Nigel Weatherill, Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, at the University of Birmingham, described the exceptional HPC opportunities which the BlueBEAR facilities offers to students and staff, and emphasised the importance of communication between researchers.
Over 35 presentations were considered in the 2011 Conference agenda. They included papers on climate change, research into Alzheimer's disease, and engineering applications on topics such as the mechanics of concrete failure, double-glazing and mobile communication performance. As one of the largest user communities of the BlueBEAR capacity, applications in Chemistry were also well represented.
Top prizes in the oral presentation category were awarded to David Ryan (Chemical Engineering), Mark Rowan (Computer Science), and Jonathan Eden (Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences), and in the poster presentation category to Julia Hofinger (Chemical Engineering), Andrew Logsdail (Chemistry), and Minxi Bao (Civil Engineering). The prizes were presented by Dr. Eugene Ch'ng, Senior Lecturer in Visualisation at the University of Birmingham, and Professor David Wales, Professor of Chemical Physics at the University of Cambridge. Joining them on the judging panel were Dr. Roy Johnston, Professor of Computational Chemistry, Dr. Andrew Chan, and Dr. Gerdjan Busker, UK Country Manager of ClusterVision.
To complete proceedings, Dr. Eugene Ch'ng, and Professor Wales presented recent work on Artificial Life and Energy Landscapes undertaken by their research teams at the Universities of Birmingham and Cambridge respectively.
Since the original installation in 2007, ClusterVision has been closely involved in subsequent evolutionary stages of the BlueBEAR facility, and continue to take an active interest in the pioneering research which the system enables.
"Our mission is to enable exactly the scale and quality of HPC capability which BlueBEAR clearly now offers to its research community", stated Dr. Gerdjan Busker, of ClusterVision. "We are proud to have been involved in the design and realisation of the BlueBEAR project, and we look forward to further partnership with the staff and students at the University of Birmingham, as their HPC research environment continues to develop."