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UB engineering professor and student use gaming consoles to build a new breed of affordable super computers to help schools train students. Breakthrough wins ASEE award.

Leslie Geary
Friday, June 10, 2011

Computers may be the future, but educating the next generation of high-tech professionals can be financially prohibitive for schools and other institutions that can’t afford technology costing tens of thousands of dollars.

 UB professor Jeongkyu Lee and student Omar Abuzaghleh’s new super computer “enables low-budget programs to offer courses with a hands-on experience. This is a huge plus to the computer science curriculum. . . It’s an excellent way to involve students at all levels.”

-- American Society for Engineering Education, June 2011

Now a significant cost barrier has been broken by a University of Bridgeport engineering professor and his student who by using PlayStation 3 gaming devices have created a supercomputer that costs no more than $2,000.

That low price tag, say computer science and engineering professor Jeongkyu Lee and graduate student Omar Abuzaghleh, can greatly help colleges and universities provide to their students enhanced computer science programs.

“In the market, supercomputers are very expensive—at least $20,000 to several million dollars,” said Lee. “That makes it almost impossible for small- or medium-sized schools, or non-research-intensive institutions, to equip their computing facilities.”

The American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) agrees.

This week it awarded Lee and Abuzaghleh its prestigious Best Paper Award for their work.

Lee and Abuzaghleh’s computer, ASEE judges wrote, “enables low-budget programs to offer courses with a hands-on experience. This is a huge plus to the CS [computer science] curriculum. . . It’s an excellent way to involve students at all levels.”

“The research is very timely, given the budget constraints of schools across the country, and the ASEE award is testament to the timely value of this research,” said UB School of Engineering Dean and Vice President for Research Dr. Tarek Sobh.

Lee will formally present a research paper, which describes the computer and its uses, at the annual ASEE conference and awards ceremony on June 27-28.

Lee and Azubzahleh created their device by using six PlayStation 3 gaming consoles to do parallel processing and high-performance computing.

The system, which the two nicknamed “UB PS3 Cluster,” can be used for physics, medical imaging, or for educational purposes. In fact, UB PS3 was put to the test in the University’s School of Engineering classrooms this spring, when it was used by undergraduate and graduate students.

In addition to the ASEE award, Lee and Abuzaghleh’s supporting research, entitled “Implementing an Affordable High Performance Computing Platform for Teaching-Oriented Computer Science Curriculum,” will appear in the upcoming ASEE Proceeding of the 2011 National ASEE Conference.

“The research is very timely, given budget constraints of schools across the country and the testament to the timely value of this research is the ASEE award for the best paper of the year,” said School of Engineering Dean and Vice President for Research Dr. Tarek Sobh.

 

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, lgeary@bridgeport.edu