Introduction and Educational Need
Students in civil engineering usually explore the components of buildings and other structures from a macro viewpoint. However, many critical elements of good design and safe structural engineering happen at the atomic level, such as material bonding and chemical properties. The StarMolsim tool allows students to learn these concepts through hands-on simulations.
The cross-discipline MIT Course 3.021 uses StarMolsim as part of its unique approach to teaching modeling and simulation. Students from materials science, civil engineering, chemical engineering, nuclear engineering, and mathematics use StarMolsim to design materials and structures, "from the bottom up", exploring ways to make them, “greener, lighter, stronger and more energy efficient.” 1
OEIT’s Justin Riley was the lead architect for the StarMolsim suite of atomistic simulation tools. Originally dubbed StarGP in its first iteration, StarMolsim has evolved and grown into a set of robust tools, now with custom user-interfaces and a more efficient system for processing data. StarMolsim's tools are accessible via a web browser and allow faculty, students, and researchers from across the globe to simulate and learn about material failure.
Because of its resource-intensive demands, StarMolsim has passed through several hosting environments with varying degrees of success and support. Originally hosted by servers at MIT, the tool was migrated to the Amazon Cluster for a period of time. It is now an integral part of