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International Research Community Honours Prof Ngoepe

Scores of academics, industry representatives, research collaborators, and current and former students of Prof Phuti Ngoepe gathered for a conference at the University of Limpopo (UL) in January to honour the academic on the occasion of his 60th birthday.
South African and international collaborators graced the occasion to share the outputs of the research they have done and are currently doing with Prof Ngoepe in the computational modelling of materials. Among the delegates were UL’s s administrative top brass; the Director-General of the Department of Science and Technology, Dr Phil Mjwara; the Deputy Director-General of the Department of Mineral Resources; and speakers from a number of the country’s universities. International collaborators present included: University College London, University of Kent, University of Oxford and Imperial College.
The CSIR and Transnet also used the event to share a number of projects undertaken in collaboration with Prof Ngoepe. Some of the research projects shared were:
• Brillouin and Raman scattering studies in Materials Science
• Nano particles to save the Mary Rose
• Computer modelling of the interaction of surfactants and peptides with apatite mineral surfaces
• Computer modelling studies of pentlandites
• TiO2 surfaces and interfaces with bone mineral thin film
• Amorphisation and recrystallisation of pure and lithiated titanium dioxides
• Electron trapping in polyethylene
• Challenges in modelling topological close-packed phase formation in Ni-based superalloys
• Computational modelling of light metal alloys
• Computational modelling of precious metal alloys.

The professor was many times described as a ‘blue sky scientist’. “Ngoepe is a rare combination of a towering intellect and profound humility”, said Prof Modibe, a long-time friend of Prof Ngoepe.
Ngoepe is South African Research Chair on Computational Modelling of Materials; Director of the Materials Modelling Centre at UL; and is a CSIR research fellow. In his career that spans over 40 years, he has taught and supervised postgraduate students including nine doctoral students. He has served on the boards of a number of science councils including the National Research Foundation, Mintek and the Council for Geosciences. Among the long list of awards and accolades bestowed upon him over the years is the Order of Maphungubwe awarded in silver in 2008. The order is South Africa’s highest honour and is granted by the president for achievements in international areas that serve the country’s interest. Its first recipient was former President Nelson Mandela.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 March 2013 09:57

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CHPC creates a data portal for Rheumatic Heart Disease on Dirisa

The CHPC is working with rheumatic heart disease (RHD) researchers to store cardiac screenings conducted on children onto a data portal developed as part of the Data Intensive Research Infrastructure of South Africa (Dirisa).
At the beginning of the 20th century, RHD was a huge public health burden worldwide. Until the 1960s, it remained a leading cause of death in children. Despite dramatic decreases in the developed world, this disease still reigns rampant in the developing world. Estimates report as much as 74 million people affected with 1.4 million deaths attributable to rheumatic fever or RHD each year, almost all of which are occurring in developing countries. These numbers demand a new approach to this entirely preventable disease.
In the period 2008 to 2011, 2 720 asymptomatic school children at Grades 1 to 12 (6 to 18 year olds) underwent an echocardiogram by a trained technologist on a customised mobile vehicle in Cape Town. A series of echocardiographic screening studies of school children in affected countries has led to the recommendation to embrace portable echocardiography as a method for screening. However, the relatively high costs hamper the adoption of this screening modality on a large scale in developing countries. A particular need has been the technology around uploading of screening echoes to be read and reviewed on a central platform by a qualified reader and facilitating data sharing within multicenter collaborations.

Through Dirisa, researchers like Dr Liesl Zühlke, paediatric cardiologist at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital and an honorary senior lecturer at University of Cape Town, have been working with CHPC researcher, Sebastian Wyngaard to upload echocardiograms to a customised open access platform that can be manipulated in order to view remotely, using minimal bandwidth and allowing for remote assessment. It is envisaged that this platform will be further developed for other medical-related projects, one of which involves eight African sites, thus demonstrating how high performance computing can serve local and international communities in need.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 March 2013 10:04

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South African Student Cluster Challenge Representatives visit Dell Headquarters in Texas


The CHPC’s Student Cluster Challenge team set for Austin, Texas in the United States in January. The trip was for a site visit, training and mentoring at the Dell headquarters (HQ), courtesy of the technology company, Dell.

The team of eight, aged 20 and 21, won the South African Student Cluster Challenge in December last year which took place on the exhibition floor of the CHPC 2012 National Meeting in Durban. The team will represent the country in Leipzig, Germany and will compete against the world’s best students from eight countries.

At Dell HQ, students met with teams covering: high performance computing, databases, custom solutions, benchmarking and storage.Dell also organised a visit to the Texas Advanced Computing Centre’s supercomputer which is capable of approximately 10 Peta-flops and consists of 6 400 compute nodes with Xeon Phi accelerators. At the end of the week, the students presented their design for the High Performance Computing Advisory Council’s Student Cluster Challenge to their hosts. The Dell team concluded that the students created a good design for their cluster and that fine tuning should be done via hands-on testing.
Team South Africa departs for Leipzig in June this year. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 March 2013 12:07

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CHPC Initiatives in Data and HPC in South Africa

The centre has recently launched the Data Intensive Research Infrastructure of South Africa (Dirisa).

The infrastructure has a storage facility of two petabytes and is accessible through the South African National Research Network. It operates at a full capacity of 10 Gps/s and provides the latest technology which is based on open source software to enable CHPC users to define their own rules in data acquisition, sharing and curation. The establishment phase was funded by the Department of Science and Technology, following a positive report on the 2007 feasibility study.

The centre has completed the full migration of data portals in Climate Modelling, Astronomy and Earth Observation and is currently migrating data portals in Humanities, medical applications on Rheumatic Heart Disease data and Bioinformatics data on genomic sequencing, amongst others.

Work is underway to drive the identification and curation of other critical research data in order to make it accessible to a wider community. There are also plans to expand the current storage capacity of 2 petabytes to enable sufficient access by the CHPC's other strategic partners.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 August 2012 18:42

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CHPC in the News

CHPC SAGrid Cluster Available

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