Advancing High-performance Computing

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A longtime Texas A&M at Qatar research initiative in advanced scientific computing was designated an official center of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) by the Board of Regents of The Texas A&M University System in late 2016, brings together faculty and researchers from a wide variety of engineering and science disciplines to tackle complex computational problems.

The Advanced Scientific Computing Center, led by Dr. Othmane Bouhali, aims to become a regional and global leader in scientific computing by developing innovative solutions and using state-of-the-art computational tools to address computational challenges in science, engineering and industry. The center — the second Texas A&M at Qatar research initiative named a TEES center — is a partnership between the Texas A&M at Qatar, Texas A&M’s main campus and the engineering research agency, TEES. Areas of interest for the center are high-performance computing, computational material sciences and chemistry, computational physics and biology and 3-D scientific visualization.

Bouhali said the new center actively contributes to the implementation of the Qatar National Research Strategy (QNRS) in the field of computational science and its applications, including materials science, computational chemistry, medical physics, system biology and high-performance computing. Internationally, the group strives to create links with supercomputing and computational science centers, and locally, the center is building partnerships with our colleagues at local institutions within Education City, Hamad bin Khalifa University and others.

Texas A&M at Qatar is at the vanguard of high-performance computing (HPC). In February 2015, the branch campus celebrated 10 years of HPC and marked several milestones, including more than five million calculation jobs, more than 30 million CPU hours execution time and more than 100 scientists and researchers across the country using the HPC resources and benefiting from the research computing skills of Texas A&M at Qatar experts. And in September 2015, Texas A&M at Qatar was accepted as a member of the HPC500, an exclusive community of high-performance computing user organizations. The HPC500 comprises the world’s foremost entities that bring high-performance computing technology to bear on challenging problems in science, engineering and business.

Bouhali, research associate professor and director of research computing at Texas A&M at Qatar, leads Texas A&M at Qatar’s endeavors in high-performance computing and scientific computing, and has collaborated with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) for the past 20 years. CERN, founded in 1954, is the largest research center in the world for nuclear and high-energy physics research.

Bouhali’s research includes several undergraduate researchers, including Fahad Al-Thani who was awarded a prestigious summer internship at CERN in summer 2016. The CERN summer program is offered to students studying physics, computing or engineering, and allows them the unique opportunity to join the day-to-day work of research teams in Geneva, Switzerland. The internship is one outcome of a recent agreement signed between Qatar Foundation R&D and CERN — and one that came about largely because of Bouhali’s research endeavors.

Bouhali’s research group has received four Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) grants from QNRF, including one in 2016 for a project that aims to conduct a comprehensive simulation program for charged particle detectors to be used in future medical and accelerator applications. “Last year our UREP project won first place in Qatar for the work we have performed with the CERN collaboration,” Bouhali said. “This new UREP project involves four new students who will get introduced to detector technology, simulation programs and advanced experimental statistical analysis.”