Laboratory for Scientific Visual Analysis

Quotes on visualization in Science / Glyph Above?: Movies & VRML
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia

  1. Table of Contents Only for This Site
  2. NCSA / Academic Affiliate / ( Alliance ) Partnership
  3. Our Future: ACITC, UVAG ( CAVE(tm) ), SMVC ( SUN-VNI Java-Server )
  4. CAVE Schedule & Reservations
  5. Introduction: Linking Research and Education
  6. Research Summary
  7. Education Programs and Courseware Development
  8. Student Projects ( ESM4714): ( 91 / 92 / 93 / 94 / 95 / 96 / 97 / 99 / 00 / 03 / 07 / 08 )
  9. Lab Facilities / Other Labs at Va Tech That Use Visual Tools
  10. Visualization Reference Center
  11. Visit Us / directions with maps.

NCSA Academic Affiliate

  1. Partnership in Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI-Alliance), Proposal, FUNDED MARCH 27, 1997.
  2. NCSA is a partner with the Virginia Tech NSF-ARI CAVE(tm) Proposal, July 1996 (funded)
  3. Virginia Tech Proposal, Dec. 1995 to the NCSA-SGI Power Grid Alliance was accepted.
  4. NCSA-NIST Workshop, Sept. 1995, / VT-Presentations
  5. NCSA: ACCESS article on VT VizLab, Engineering with Visual Analysis, Fall 1993 (Vol.7, No.2)
  6. First NCSA httpd web server in Virginia, July 1993. Comments: NCSA's SDG.
  7. Invited to work in NCSA's Software Development Group (SDG), Summer 1991.

Many activities in NCSA's Computational Structural Mechanics Group relate to the computational mechanics research at Virginia Tech. Fouad Ahmad has also organized information that would be of interest to The Computational Mechanics Community, such as the United States Association for Computational Mechanics (USACM), conferences, workshops, publications, and other places to search the web.

John Shalf, a former Virginia Tech graduate student, worked for a while in NCSA's Relativity Group. John was one of the first students to take our Scientific Visualization class at Virginia Tech in 1992. John put together a very nice summary of Information and Tutorials for Visualization Tools Available at NCSA.

Introduction: Linking Research and Education

The Lab for Scientific Visual Analysis is an open lab for students and faculty. Its primary goal is to enable the engineer/scientist to better understand his/her data through the use of visual methods.

Visual display of quantitative information can be a useful tool in learning experiences both in the classroom and laboratory. Recent technologies, such as three-dimensional X-ray tomography and MRI tomography systems, Doppler velocity field measurement systems, and super computer simulations of physical phenomena, have created a new demand for interpretation, analysis, and display of massive quantities of data. With well designed visual tools, the investigator can analyze these data sets more efficiently. In some cases visual analysis can lead to new discoveries (visual insight).

In our first five years:

From these experiences we have observed a higher regard for visualization skills and talents. In fact we have witnessed that this return to "visual thinking" has helped to link research and education.

Research Summary

For a summary of research and related activities at Virginia Tech that have used scientific visualization tools and methods, see the section on Visual Insights. More detailed descriptions of research projects that use visual data analysis will be completed below as information becomes availble.

Current Research Projects that have used the Visualization Lab:

  1. Army Research Office: Adiabatic Shear Banding, Batra & Stevens.

  2. NSF-STC: Evolution of the Ionospheric Kelvin Helmholtz Instability, Scales.

  3. NASA & EPA: Sulfate Aerosol Climate Forcing, Peters, Zaveri, and Lee

  4. AFOSR: Center for Simulation and Modeling in Material Science, Farkas, et al.

  5. Lincoln University, New Zealand: Exploring a Model of Ground Water Solute Dispersion, Alan E. McKinnon

  6. NASA Langley: Parallel Filtered Back Projection Algorithm, Rao & Kriz.

  7. NSF-STC: Multiple Wave Scattering in Fiber-Reinforced Composites, Liu & Kriz.

  8. NSF-SUCCEED: Download multimedia module, Gopolakrishnan & Kriz.

  9. John Deere:Value Metering Visualization, Shalf & Kriz.

  10. Alcoa: Educational Visualization Grant, Kriz.

  11. Durability, Inc. & Materials Response Group: Composite material programs & projects.

Education Programs

The Visual Analysis Lab is affiliated with several education and research activities across the Virginia Tech campus. Our goal is to create an environment where students learn by creating their own solutions interactively and working in teams when appropriate. For example:

  1. NSF Proposal, "Combined Research and Curriculum Development: Computer Simulation of Material Behavior -- From Atomistic to the Continuum Level" / (Project Summary). Computing has had a tremendous impact on research in the sciences, but much of this knowledge remains to be transferred into the classroom. This project will focus on developing Java applications so that undergraduate students can access and learn about recent advances in mechanics of failure of engineering materials by using high speed computer networks and Java enabaling web interfaces. With these tools students can interactively create and parametrically design material systems.
  2. Drs. Chris Beattie (Math) and Cal Ribbens (Computer Science) team teach an undergraduate honors course on High Performance and Scientific Computing where students learn about high performance scientific computing by creating their own programs and visualize the results.
  3. Mr. Jason Lockhart (Director of The Multimedia Lab) and Dr. Ron Kriz (Director of the Laboratory for Scientific Visual Analysis) team teach a course on Scientific Visual Analysis and Multimedia (ESM4714) where students work closely with their advisors and create their own multimedia and web modules on a educational or research project. Some projects contribute to their Senior Design Project, M.S. or Ph.D. This class was featured in December 7, 1994 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education
  4. Develop educational multimedia modules for the undergraduate engineering curriculum as part of the NSF Southeastern University and College Coalition for Engineering Education (SUCCEED) Program.
  5. Professors and students in the NSF - Science and Technology Center's Summer Undergraduate Research Program SURP-NEW / (SURP-OLD 95 / 96) have created some of the multimedia and web modules listed below.
    1. Viscoelasticity, for ESM-MSE-Chem: Download Multimedia Module.
    2. Navigable Interactive QT-Movies: Download Multimedia Module.
    3. The Structure of Electron Shells, for Chem-MSE: Download Multimedia Module.
    4. Diffusion, for MSE 2094
    5. Molecular Dynamics, for MSE 2094.
    6. Phase Diagram Basics, for MSE 2094.
    7. Statistics Project: Current Version / Original Version: MSE 2094 and Central Virginia Governor's School Curriculum..
    8. PV-Wave Java Applets that facilitate the creation of a distributed visual computing environment.
  6. Future activities include:
    1. Chris Beattie, Cal Ribbens and Ron Kriz have created a Scientific Modeling and Visualization Classroom which will located in the ACITC but is temporaily located in Hancock Hall. The SMVC extends beyond the present limited resources in the SciViz and Multimedia Laboratories where UNIX workstations are required for UH3004, ESM4714 and MSE2094 and other classes across campus.
    2. The SMVC will be the "CAVE-classroom" located in the new Advanced Communications and Information Technology (ACITC) building.
    3. The SMVC-ACITC "CAVE-classroom" will also serve as the new VE (Virtual Environment) training center for the Navy Collaborative Integrated Information Technology Initiative (NAVCIITI).
  7. Independent educational/research projects completed in the Viz Lab.

Together these courses and NSF funded programs have been used by educators and researchers, both on and off campus, to explore how their educational and research programs can benefit from the use of visualization and / or multimedia tools and methodologies.

Courseware Development

  1. UH3004: (Undergraduate Honors), High Performance and Scientific Computing
    Instructors: Cal Ribbens (Computer Science) and Chris Beattie (Math)
    (Class NoteBook)
  2. ESM4714: (Undergraduate/ Graduate ), Scientifc Visual Analysis and Multimedia
    Instructors: Ron Kriz (ESM-MSE) and Jason Lockhart (Multimedia Lab)
    (Class NoteBook) Student Projects ( 91 / 92 / 93 / 94 / 95 / 96 / 97 / 99 )
  3. MSE2034: (Undergraduate), Elements of Materials Engineering.
  4. MSE2094: (Undergraduate), Analytic Methods in Material Science.
  5. ESM2204: (Undergraduate), Mechanics of Deformable Bodies (NSF-SUCCEED).
  6. ESM5344: (Graduate), Wave Propagation in Solids.
  7. With our ftp server we share software that we have developed for the various programs listed above. Most of these modules are Macro Media Player files created by:
    1. NSF Summer Undergraduate ResearchProgram (Mac).
    2. NSF-SUCCEED undergraduate engineering modules (Mac & Windows),
    3. Visualization Multimedia Class Projects (mostly Mac and some Windows).

Lab Facilities

University Visualization and Animation Group
of the
Advanced Communication and Information Technology Center


On-Campus: "VT-CAVE Classroom"
Scientific Modeling and Visualization Classroom (SMVC)
Hancock Hall Room 212A

The lab is comprised of 27 machines:
7 SGIs, 13 Sun Sparcs, 1 DEC and 6 PowerMacs.
All machines except the DEC have Pinnacle read/write optical drives.

WORKSTATIONS: "VT-CAVE" off-campus site

WORKSTATIONS: "VT-CAVE Classroom" on-campus site VISUAL SUPERCOMPUTER: VT-CAVE off-campus site

Visualization and Animation Laboratory of Engineering (VALE)
(Off-Campus site, Hancock Hall, Room 212A)


FTP SITE: ; SUN Sparc10 Ultra

PRINTERS: Tektronixs Phaser IIp, HP Color LJ 5M and Apple IIG


  1. Visual Numerics, Inc. On-Campus Software Distribution Request

  2. Unix:
  3. Macintosh:

Other Labs at Virginia Tech That Use Visual Tools

  1. ESM Fluids Mechanics Laboratory
  2. Center for Modeling and Simulation in Maerial Science
  3. ICAM: Jeff Borggaard Research in Fluid Dynamics
  4. Art Department Visualization Lab: Bob Fields
  6. Software Technologies Laboratory

Please let us know if we missed your Lab. We will include a link to your lab on request. Contact R.D. Kriz at

Visualization Reference Center

  2. SUPERCOMPUTING Conference Series (1988 - 2004)
  3. IEEE Virtual Reality '99 | IEEE VR 2000 | IEEE VR 2002 | IEEE VR 2003 | IEEE VR 2004
  4. High Performance Computing Resources
  5. Computer Graphics Jumpstation
  6. CECM Research Projects
  7. American Institute of Physics (Includes Computers in Physics)
  8. University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute

On the following pages, click on this image to return to the VT Viz Lab homepage.

Please contact Ron Kriz at: for further information.

Ron Kriz, Director
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA
Revised September 23, 2004