The National Science Foundation has awarded Portland State University a three-year, $300,000 grant to help undergraduate student researchers use big data to guide growth in the Portland metropolitan region.
PSU's "Computational Modeling Serving the City" project will bring eight college students to PSU from throughout the U.S. this summer to work on research projects involving transportation, pollution, water sources and other topics important to Portland's quality of life.
The students will learn the fundamentals of computational modeling and then use it during an eight-week course to tackle real-world problems in the Portland area.
The grant will enable PSU to recruit a diverse population of students across multiple disciplines. The program will target students at institutions with limited science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) research opportunities such as two-year community colleges. The award is a joint project with the Portland Institute for Computational Science, which will provide computing resources that will allow students to simulate large-scale computational models.
"Understanding computational modeling is becoming increasingly important in this era of big data, no matter what you do for a career," said Teuscher.
Another purpose of the project is to give valuable mentoring and research experience to the undergraduate students -- an essential element in training future scientists.
"I've been involved in undergraduate research for a long time, both personally and professionally," said PSU engineering professor Christof Teuscher, the principal investigator of the project. "I was lucky to have great mentors during my own college experience and they made all the difference. They were incredibly supportive and taught me a lot of great technical and non-technical wisdom. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am today."