BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Leading high-performance computing engineers and researchers attending a three-day international conference at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have called for renewed vigilance in field-related data security. The group says growing world-wide computer use puts more and more applied modeling, design and other super-computer-processed projects that are stored digitally at risk for theft by hackers and other cyber criminals.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering in the UAB School of Engineering hosted the International Conference on Applied Modeling and Information Security Systems (ICAMISS) Oct. 8-10, with 50 applied modeling experts from a range of disciplines attending.
Applied modeling is the practice of using high-capacity computers to render three-dimensional images and immersive virtual reality programs in order to view engineering designs and verify their functionality prior to full-scale production. It is useful to numerous disciplines. Testing the viability and integrity of new bridge, fighter plane or building designs are some of the uses for applied modeling; in health care, it is used for review of the feasibility of newly designed joint replacement devices.
"Modeling and computing helps to solve the world's complex problems, but the information we process on the high-speed devices of our field can easily be abused if lost to those with ill intent," said Bharat Soni, Ph.D., a conference co-chair and the chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. "That is why our conference has focused on securing the data we generate as researchers."
Information systems security experts from the field of applied modeling lectured on the strategies for securing high-performance computing data but were most concerned with creating awareness about the potential for data theft.
"Now when we work to generate new information and data, we will know to protect it," said Suhrit K. Dey, Ph.D., conference chair and a professor of mathematics and computer science at Eastern Illinois University. "The information developed in computer modeling is the intellectual property of the researchers and designers, and we do not want it abused."
ICAMISS attendees also recognized Joe F. Thompson Jr., Ph.D., professor of aerospace engineering at Mississippi State University. Thompson is considered the father of computational science and engineering after developing the grid generation technology applicable to complex configurations that is commonly used in high fidelity computational field simulations.
"Joe Thompson is the pioneer of our entire field, and the scientific and engineering community is deeply indebted to his outstanding research and teaching," Soni said.
ICAMISS was organized by the Institute of Applied Science and Computations of Charleston, Ill. Conference speakers were selected by an advisory committee of scientists from India, Italy, Lithuania, the United Kingdom and United States.
NASA provided external funding for ICAMISS, which was secured by the one of the event's chief coordinators, John Zeibarth, Ph.D., the senior vice president of the Krell Institute. The U.S. Department of Defense, Krell Institute, Eastern Illinois University and UAB also provided financial support.
The UAB School of Engineering offers students real-world experience while they train in one of its degree programs, which include the only undergraduate biomedical engineering program in Alabama. Students experience cutting-edge research opportunities, industry co-ops and unique internships generated by the school's commitment to interdisciplinary learning.