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Computational Science & Modeling
in the Natural Sciences at Hope College

The Computational Science & Modeling (CSM) Laboratory is a set of interdisciplinary resources designed to support student-learning by enabling the integration of computation in research and teaching throughout the natural sciences at Hope College.

Computational modeling is one of the most significant developments in scientific inquiry in the 20th Century. While scientific research has been successful in identifying the fundamental laws that govern our world, the advances promised by these discoveries have not been fully realized because the real-world systems governed by these laws are often extraordinarily complex. Computer-based modeling provides a way to understand and predict the behavior of complex systems based on knowledge of these fundamentals laws combined with experimental and/or observational data. Computational modeling also allows simple, well understood components to be combined into a single complex system, providing a unified description of complex behavior. Hope’s new Computational Science Facility will help students to understand and predict the behavior of complex systems with experimental and observational data. Hope College emphasizes interdisciplinary science education through research and a research-integrated curriculum. Our goals are to foster faculty development through interdisciplinary teaching, prepare students for future challenges through original research, and develop and enhance a quantitatively rich interdisciplinary curriculum focused on complex systems.

Infrastructure for the CSM Laboratory was included in the construction of the Hope College Science Center, completed in 2004. This infrastructure includes power and cooling for high performance computing in a 280 sq. ft. server room (SC 3101A) and a 15-seat, 880 sq. ft. computer classroom (SC 3101).

The science division received a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in 2004 to fund a number of interdisciplinary curriculum activities including substantial hardware and software for the CSM laboratory. The HHMI program provided funding for the curie and hhmibio clusters, for a number of software packages on the clusters and the classroom PCs, a stereo projection system, and for creation of the CSM facilitator position.