KAUST announces partnership with UC San Diego to build world's most advanced visualization center

October 21, 2008

Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (October 17, 2008) - King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) today announced a special partnership to develop and conduct joint research in visualization and virtual reality and training facilities, which will make the KAUST campus in Saudi Arabia the site of the world's most advanced visualization suite.

The Geometric Modeling and Scientific Visualization Research Center (GM&SVRC) will allow researchers to transform raw data into a fully three-dimensional visual experience that will enhance research in a broad range of scientific and technological disciplines.

Under the four-year agreement between KAUST, a graduate-level research university under development in Saudi Arabia, the UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) will provide expertise and joint research in visualization, virtual reality and collaboration tools to support KAUST's ambitious plan to deploy state-of-the-art technologies for elite scientific research.

"Our partnership with UCSD will be a catalyst for researchers, enabling them to conduct novel scientific research leading to discoveries and inventions that will contribute to the most pressing needs of science and technology and to Saudi Arabia's transformation to a knowledge society," said Nadhmi Al-Nasr, KAUST's interim president. "Calit2 will provide KAUST students, faculty and global partners with the advanced display, virtual reality and collaboration technologies that are essential ingredients of today's IT-based and computationally intensive education and research environments."

"As one of the youngest top-tier U.S. universities in science and technology, UCSD has a particular affinity with the ambitious challenge facing KAUST," said UCSD Vice Chancellor Steven W. Relyea, who represented his university in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, earlier this week at a KAUST-hosted meeting of special academic research partners.

GM&SVRC will host the world's highest VL6 resolution and brightest Virtual Environment, named "Cornea," which is derived from the Arabic word and a tribute to Ibn Al-Haytham, the Arab scientist and father of modern optics. Cornea will provide a fully immersive stereoscopic visual environment for materials scientists, biomedical researchers, electrical engineers and other researchers. The 100 million pixel system will provide pure 20/20 visual acuity in a fully three-dimensional environment for KAUST researchers, students and partners.

KAUST's development of the world's preeminent visualization and collaboration facilities will build on and expand Calit2's network of elite academic institutions, providing access to ultra-high-resolution display and collaboration facilities. KAUST and Calit2 facilities will be linked via a high-speed network.

KAUST has assigned about a dozen researchers from Calit2 to prototype and evaluate appropriate technologies for use on the KAUST campus. These will be deployed first in the Al-Khawarzimi Mathematical and Computer Sciences and Engineering Building, a shared-use facility at the core of the new campus. Over time, the visualization tools, displays and services will expand to other parts of the campus and even to its research partners in Europe, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East.

"KAUST and Calit2 share a common interest in using new technology to tear down the traditional walls between scientists, disciplines and even countries," said Ramesh Rao, director of the UCSD division of Calit2, and a professor of electrical and computer engineering in UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering. "Effective research involves visualizing huge data sets and collaborating on solutions in real time with colleagues who may be down the hall or around the world. Calit2 has made a substantial investment in visualization and collaborative tools, and we are delighted that KAUST has targeted this area as a critical building block and selected UCSD as a partner in this endeavor."

"The combination of all the systems together makes a statement to the rest of the world that KAUST is committed to providing the world's best tools to researchers pursuing some of the most challenging questions in science and technology," said Majid Al-Ghaslan, interim Chief Information Officer, who is responsible for the development, support and operation of innovative technology solutions and services that advance learning and discovery at KAUST, including the Shaheen supercomputer, in a joint-venture development between KAUST and IBM that was announced last month.

Among other projects, GM&SVRC will develop a virtual environment for the interactive visual exploration that will examine three-dimensional geological structures, dynamic seismic processes and atmospheric processes and effects on built or planned infrastructure.

The GM&SVRC will be enhanced with the ability to record signals and sessions from each of the displays digitally in high-definition. This approach will set the KAUST GM&SVRC apart and catapult it beyond visualization suites anywhere in the world. Its state-of-the-art spatial audio system will be the first of its kind. This system is to be designed in collaboration with Meyer Audio and UC San Diego, recognized as world leaders in this technology.

Mechdyne corporation was selected to build these state-of-the-art facilities. Specifically, the Visualization Cluster within The GM&SVRC will go beyond other international systems through its use of the GraphStream visualization cluster. GraphStream components decrease the physical footprint and reduce the power utilized while gaining the computing power needed to run a best-in-world visualization suite.

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is being built in Saudi Arabia as an international, graduate-level research university dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement in the Kingdom, the region and around the globe.

As an independent, merit-based institution, KAUST will employ many of the best practices from leading research universities and enable top researchers from around the globe and across all cultures to work together to solve challenging scientific and technological issues. The KAUST global research and education network will support diverse talents, both on its campus and at other premier universities and research institutions, through collaborative research agreements, grants, and student scholarship programs.

KAUST will be merit-based, open to men and women from all cultures around the world, and governed by an independent, self-perpetuating Board of Trustees. The core campus, located on more than 36 million square meters on the Red Sea at Thuwal, is set to open in September 2009.

For more information about KAUST, visit www.kaust.edu.sa.

About Calit2 at UC San Diego

The UC San Diego Division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), together with Calit2's division at UC Irvine, house over 1,000 researchers across the two campuses, organized around more than 50 projects on the future of telecommunications and information technology and how these technologies will transform a range of applications important to the California economy and its citizens' quality of life.

Created in 2000 by the State of California to maintain and extend its leadership in critical technologies, Calit2 brings together teams of faculty, student and staff researchers on both campuses with leading California telecommunications, computer, software, and applications companies. They conduct studies in "living laboratories" to investigate how the future Internet will accelerate advances in areas such as environmental science, civil infrastructure, intelligent transportation and telematics, genomic medicine, new media arts and digital cinema.

For more information about Calit2, visit www.calit2.net.

King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

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