Newsletter No.8 Ocotober-1999

In this Newsletter, we introduce, in a successive manner, the global change research institutes in the world. For the seventh in this series, Dr.L.M.Jameson, who has been participating in the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) since October '97,introduces NASA Langley Research Center.

International Pacific Research Center (IPRC)

Before joining the IPRC,I worked at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC). At both MHI and NASA I was employed as a specialist in numerical calculations. NASA Langley Research Center was established in 1917 as the first national civil aeronautics laboratory. LaRC is a comprehensive, world- class center for aeronautics, atmospheric sciences and space technology. Seventy percent of LaRC's effort is in aeronautics research and this is the area where my own research was applied.

Specifically, I worked at the Institute for Computer Applications in Science and Engineering (ICASE) which is an Academic style research group inside of LaRC. The task of ICASE was to support the effort at LaRC in a very fundamental academic manner. Most of the scientists at ICASE were affiliated with a university and those of us who were full time ICASE employees were allowed to pursue our own research in essentially any manner we chose.
As the name ICASE indicates, the impact of computers in the research effort at LaRC was considered important enough to establish an independent center in 1972,ICASE, inside LaRC for the sole purpose of investigating fundamental issues in numerical analysis and computer science. ICASE was very famous in the 1970's and 1980's for research in numerical analysis and in this decade for research in computer science areas such as the all- important field of visualization.

Wind tunnel test at LaRC

Numerical analysis and computer science have become critical areas for many areas of research at LaRC related to computer simulations. LaRC is famous for many areas of research including structures and materials as well as for wind tunnels and test facilities. In fact, LaRC has the most extensive collection of wind tunnels in the United States and possibly the world. Langley's wind tunnels allow engineers to conduct testing that encompasses the entire speed range from 0mph to nearly Mach 25,or approximately 17,500mph.Some of these tunnels are unique to the Nation, including the National Transonic Facility, the Transonic Dynamics Tunnel, the W- Foot High Temperature Tunnel and the Supersonic Low Disturbance Tunnel. Wind tunnel experiments are, however, very expensive to conduct. So, if some of the experiments can be conducted on a supercomputer then LaRC and NASA can save quite a bit of money. Furthermore, wind tunnel experiments and large 3 dimensional calculations produce huge amounts of data from which useful information must be extracted and this is where computer visualization becomes important.

My experience at LaRC was very positive. I had the chance to work with some excellent scientists who were on the cutting edge in research in their own fields. Furthermore, the special nature of ICASE and its close connection to various universities made the environment very academic in the sense that we always knew what the academic world was thinking and this helped us to keep our own research state- of- the- art. Furthermore, I believe that LaRC's desire to stay connected to academia through ICASE serves as a good example for government laboratories around the world.

I look forward to applying my simulation and numerical analysis knowledge that acquired at LaRC to the my research efforts at the IPRC and the Frontier program.

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