Operation and Governance of the
Scientific Modeling and Visualization Classroom


This document describes plans for the governance and oversight of a scientific modeling and visualization classroom at Virginia Tech that is to reside in McBryde 334. This classroom is intended to directly meet the needs of courses that depend heavily on computer simulation and sophisticated interactive graphics for the modeling and visualization of physical phenomena. Start-up funding has come from a variety of sources both within and outside the University: The College of Arts and Sciences has contributed $20,000, the College of Engineering has contributed $27,000, and the University Computing Center has contributed $30,000 for the purchase of equipment and software. Corporate matching valued at more than $260,000 has been agreed upon by Sun Microsystems and Visual Numerics - world leaders in their respective areas of distributed computing workstation environments and visual data analysis tools.

The principal issues determining policy for operation and governance are

Operational policies will be determined by an independent advisory committee. A flexible system of cost recovery will be instituted by the committee so departments that are contributing resources to the SMVC will be given representation on the advisory committee and priority in the scheduling of their classes. Contributions of resources will not be a prerequisite for use of the SMVC; nor will resource contributions alone justify access to the room. Donations of space, staff time, or equipment will be weighed comparably with donations of operating funds. Participating departments will be asked to contribute $3,000 initially with later usage fees tiered according to:

As an initial estimate, we propose that the participating departments contribute on average of $5/student/hour of classroom use. At this rate then, a 3 credit hour class with 16 students that meets every class day in the SMVC would lead to a suggested contribution of ~$3,600. Funds that are accumulated from usage fees are primarily intended for maintenance and upkeep of the room and equipment. Accordingly, fees will be adjusted generally to the lowest level that maintains sufficient funds for this purpose. Usage fees higher than this level will be only for specifically designated goals (e.g., additional equipment, additional software)

Approval of use and scheduling of the SMVC for class meetings or other activities will be determined by the advisory committee according to priorities that the committee itself decides upon. The Mathematics Department will maintain the reservations calendar. Normally, the SMVC will be used as a workstation classroom and as a restricted access workstation laboratory with access determined on a case-by-case basis by the SMVC advisory committee. We intend that scheduling arrangements be made fairly with a minimum of difficulty and our hope is to be both flexible and responsive to innovative uses of the room by faculty. Nonetheless, all use of the room should be consistent with the special capabilities of the available hardware and software.