UCLA officials have announced the formation of the Institute for Digital Research and Education (IDRE), a high-end computation, system simulation, and visualization center that will bring together faculty expertise campus-wide.

The Institute will focus on being able to deliver large scale simulations of all kinds to a wide spectrum of faculty involved in cutting-edge research.

For example, simulations can allow a surgeon to experience an experimental surgery to see if a new method is feasible before surgery is actuallly performed; simulations also can allow a researcher to estimate how the impact of pollution or chemicals on one area of the environment impacts other variables including the earth’s climate, helping researchers to find proactive solutions for potential problems before they occur.

Engineering Dean Vijay K. Dhir will serve on the institute’s council of Deans that will oversee activities.

The campus has a considerable number of investigators who are deeply involved in digital and computational research and are working in the realms of engineering, science, the arts and humanities, and applied mathematics. The institute intends to capitalize on UCLA’s considerable strengths in such areas as plasma science and engineering, brain mapping, computational chemistry, fluid dynamics, and climate modeling to obtain base funding that will link these researchers in innovative and dynamic ways.

The institute will be directed by Professor Alan J. Laub, who comes from the University of California, Davis, and has had a long and distinguished career in control theory, numerical linear algebra and advanced computing. At UCLA, he will hold appointments in both electrical engineering and mathematics.

Laub also currently serves on the Simulation-Based Engineering Sciences panel for the National Science Foundation, a panel that seeks to accelerate the use of computers in engineering research and education. “The new institute is going to put UCLA on the international map in digital and computational research.”

“Computation and visualization are now regarded as an equal and indispensable partner, along with theory and experiment, in the advance of scientific knowledge and engineering practice,” said UCLA Vice Chancellor Roberto Peccei, who will oversee the institute’s operations.

The vision for the institute has been building for several years and has finally come to fruition through the concerted efforts of Peccei; Dean Tony Chan of the UCLA College; Dean Vijay Dhir of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science; Associate Vice Chancellor for Information Technology James Davis; and Warren Mori, professor of both physics and astronomy and electrical engineering.

In keeping with its unique and collaborative nature, the institute will be governed by a council of deans representing the divisions of physical sciences and life sciences in the UCLA College; the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science; the David Geffen School of Medicine; the School of the Arts and Architecture; and the School of Theater, Film and Television.