Systems Engineering Professor Wins IBM Faculty Award for U.Va. Bay Game

January 24, 2011

January 21, 2011 — Gerard P. Learmonth Sr., an associate professor in the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science's Department of Systems and Information Engineering, was recently honored with a 2010 IBM Faculty Award. The $25,000 award will support development of the U.Va. Bay Game/Analytics, a virtual simulation of the effects of pollution on the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

UVa. Bay Game/Analytics was designed and built by Learmonth, who also holds a secondary appointment in Public Health Sciences.

The game and analytical tool models the complex interrelationships among the 16.7 million people who live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the watershed itself ¬– the largest, most diverse estuary in the United States, embracing six states and the District of Columbia. It will allow unprecedented testing of innovative policies and actions for improving the health of the bay.

The game and analytics tool became part of the IBM-sponsored World Community Grid [link to: http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org] on Sept. 7. The simulation of an ecosystem as complex as that of the Chesapeake requires massive computing power, and the grid facilitates the simulation by harnessing the computing resources of 1.5 million personal computers in a voluntary worldwide network, creating the equivalent of one of the world's fastest supercomputers.

The U.Va. Bay Game/Analytics was one of three new projects chosen to become part of the World Community Grid last fall. All of the new projects focus on development of techniques to produce cleaner and safer water.

According to the company's website, the IBM Faculty Awards is a competitive program intended to foster collaboration among researchers at leading universities worldwide and those in IBM research, development and services organizations, and to promote courseware and curriculum innovation to stimulate growth in disciplines and geographies that are strategic to IBM.

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Zak Richards

Senior Writer/SEAS