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University participates in new software project

On April 9, 2010

Marshall University is participating in a software project to enhance infrastructure in the institution.

The Cyberinfrastructure for Transformational Scientific Discovery in West Virginia and Arkansas, CI-TRAIN, is a collaborative project that includes three universities in West Virginia and five institutions in Arkansas.

"It's an infrastructure project funded by the National Science Foundation," said Tony Szwilski, director of Marshall University's Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Science.

Infrastructure included collaborative software and high broadband capabilities, such as the Internet2 network, Szwilski said.

"The goal of the (CI-TRAIN) is to continually increase the cyber infrastructure capability," Szwilski said. "Visualization is a major theme. That's a key element in the cyberinfrastructure, which is quickly growing at Marshall."

As part of the project, Jack Smith, associate for the Marshall's Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Science, presented new software recently acquired called Avizo.

Justin Chapman, graduate computer science major from St. Albans, W.Va., helped Smith in the presentation by operating the software. The software was projected onto a big screen.

"It's a general purpose 3D scientific visualization tool," he said.

The program supports 2D and 3D visualization. It comes in several editions, including Standard, Earth, Wind, Fire and Green. Each edition focuses on a certain area of scientific visuals. Marshall has the standard version.

The software runs on Windows XP, Vista and Mac. To have access to the software, one must have an academic license.

As a demonstration, Smith had individuals put on 3D glasses while showing a model of a body. Chapman demonstrated some of the software capabilities, including highlight certain parts of the body model.

Other institutions have taken notice of this technology.

Smith said representatives form Cabell Huntington Hospital are coming to look at the software.

Smith said the new program will make data easier to understand and more applicable.

"The picture speaks for millions of numbers," he said. "Instead of scouring through tons of numbers, it highlights certain features of data."

Kristen Hainkel can be contacted at

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