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UNLV College of Engineering Paves Way for State’s Future High-Tech Big Data Projects

For many years, UNLV researchers have been conducting world-class big data research – addressing questions related to many fields such as national security and public health. Located centrally in the west, UNLV houses a high-performance computing center – The National Supercomputing Institute – that allows for an array of big data research.

Photo credit: Rakitha Perera/UNLV

Examples of UNLV’s areas of expertise include:

• Unstructured data analysis

• Cloud computing

• Deep learning

• Document layout analysis

• Human-computer interaction

• Information retrieval

• Machine learning

• UAS and GIS integration

• Medical image analysis

• Data mining

• Physiological data sensing applications

“We are currently working on completing our Advanced Engineering Building and plan to open that in Spring 2024,” said UNLV College of Engineering Dean Rama Venkat. “Ultimately, we have been facing some space challenges within our college and this new building allows us to address those issues with additional high-tech facilities to pave the way for increased big data projects and much more.”

The new building will enable computer science researchers to expand ongoing big data work in critical areas, including interdisciplinary collaborations across the university and beyond, making it a competitive choice for top students and scientists.

One such project – supported by a more than $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation – commissioned a high-performance graphical processing unit (GPU) cluster to support research across a variety of areas including biomedical, intelligent transportation systems and automated vehicles, genomics, astronomy and physics. Research efforts include integrating, synthesizing, modeling and visualizing large volumes of data along with the development and application of various artificial intelligence techniques to support decision making.

The project, which runs through August 2024, is addressing near-term societal needs to preserve and enhance the quality of living of individuals and families, support economic competitiveness and business growth and foster the vitality of communities.

Most recently, the Department of Computer Science released an open-source software to help medical researchers manage and curate ongoing clinical trials’ data for various diseases.

The platform, according to Kazem Taghva, chair of the Department of Computer Science at UNLV, extends the capabilities of – which maintains a database of approximately 450,000 trials in 200 countries – by providing visualization, historical data, and machine learning plug-in tools.

“Many researchers want to customize and build observatories for certain conditions and diseases, while others would like to mine the entire database to produce reports on minority patients’ participation or discover the common reasons for failure of trials,” said Taghva. “Our innovative software is helping to provide those answers.”

In addition to the advances that will come with the new building, the college also relies on current – and unique – infrastructure to support big data research. The college currently manages a data center space that includes an Intel Supercomputer called Cherry Creek which encompasses a 26,000-core cluster. The cluster, hosted at Switch near the UNLV campus, provides both federal and state researchers with state-of-the-art, highly secure cloud computing.

“Our goal over the next few years is to continue to grow both our facilities and research team as a leader in not only the state of Nevada, but the West,” said UNLV College of Engineering Associate Dean Mohamed Trabia. “We look forward to hearing from potential collaborators with the West Hub community.”


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