A new engineering lab at Northeastern University will be home to the next developments in high-tech simulation and advanced computing. The MathWorks Systems Modeling and Radio Technology (SMART) Laboratory officially opened this week at the Egan Engineering Science Research Center, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.
The opening of the lab marks the latest research development in the successful collaboration between the university and the software-development firm, based in Natick, Mass.
The latest collaboration between Northeastern and MathWorks builds on a strong relationship that includes co-op placements and research fellowships.
“This is the kind of relationship we look for — a true partnership,” Mel Bernstein, Northeastern’s senior vice provost for research and graduate education, said at the opening ceremony. “It is one that is able to draw the best from both sides. As we are educating this new generation of engineers, they have the tools to do things that we could only imagine when we were starting out.”
“This partnership allows me and fellow Northeastern researchers to continue important work on engineering simulations and advanced computations that rely on MathWorks technologies, and apply them to new disciplines,” said engineering professor Miriam Leeser, who works with MathWorks to accelerate its applications by using specialized hardware such as graphics processing units and field-programmable gate arrays.
In addition to continuing the support it provides for Leeser’s work, the agreement supports research and creates grants for Northeastern professors to explore new uses for MathWorks software in research and the classroom. Northeastern and MathWorks have also created a new position for a teaching assistant, who will staff a dedicated help desk to assist students and faculty to make the best use of MathWorks programs.
“Through our collaborations with Miriam and other researchers, we’re having discussions with faculty about how we can provide the tools that will enable the next generation of engineers to solve the problems of tomorrow,” said Tom Gaudette, MathWorks’ principal academic evangelist, who earned a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern in 1998.
A relationship between the software company and Northeastern is important not just because it helps bring forth new and improved uses for existing technologies, but also because it helps prepare students for careers in fields like engineering, where MathWorks programs are an industry standard, Gaudette said.
“We’re trying to understand how we can better prepare students for the future,” Gaudette said, “and we’re excited to see some really innovative work come out of this collaboration.”
Diane MacGillivray, Northeastern’s senior vice president for university advancement, said the new partnership is the ideal way to pair faculty research with industry leaders.
“The MathWorks SMART Lab represents a deepening of this relationship, one that already includes co-ops, research, fellows and support,” MacGillivray said. “It’s certainly a model for the ways we want to partner and work with the corporate world.”