Thomas, Koric receive IDC innovation award


By Meredith Staub


Professor Brian G. Thomas and Adjunct Professor Seid Koric
Professor Brian G. Thomas and Adjunct Professor Seid Koric
Professor Brian G. Thomas and Adjunct Professor Seid Koric

The Continuous Casting Consortium, directed by C.J. Gauthier Professor Brian Thomas from MechSE with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications’ Seid Koric, has received the HPC Innovation Excellence Award from the International Data Corporation.


The HPC Innovation Excellence Award distinguishes noteworthy achievements made by projects which make significant use of High Performance Computing (HPC). Recipients of the award are those who have achieved success in applying HPC to improve business, scientific advancement, and/or engineering successes, many of which also directly benefit society as a whole.

Thomas joined the MechSE Department in 1985 and created the consortium in 1991. Koric earned his

Ph.D. from MechSE in 2006 and is currently a technical leader for the Private Sector Program (PSP) at NCSA as well as an adjunct assistant professor for MechSE.

“Seid is the expert on high-performance computing stuff and the parallel processing, and I know about continuous casting,” Thomas said. “So we’ve collaborated a lot over the years.”

“What most people don’t realize,” says Koric, “is that Brian Thomas is the go-to guru for the steel industry. Everybody in the world comes to CCC and the University of Illinois to solve their problems, not just the producers in the United States. For this particular award we were in a stiff competition, competing with numerous organizations using HPC from both private and public sectors world-wide, and that is why this award is so sweet for us.”

The consortium was started by Thomas as a vehicle for continuing the work that originated with his National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award. It is a cooperative research effort between the University of Illinois, corporate members of the steel industry, and the government (through the NSF), whose aim is to develop comprehensive mathematical models of the continuous casting process for casting steel slabs, in order to improve understanding of and optimize the process. They also solve practical problems of interest to the participating members of the consortium.

“In our case, we’re improving the manufacturing of steel by getting new insights into the continuous

casting process,” Thomas said. “We have developed new modeling methods, and then we’ve used those

methods to learn some valuable things.”

Specifically, the award recognized the connection between the CCC and NCSA. The CCC has used the HPC resources at NCSA to develop several comprehensive numerical models of the continuous casting of steel, in order to solve practical problems relevant to the steel industry. Based on the amount of steel produced in the U.S. each year, and the approximate net cost of scrapping, even a one percent reduction in yield loss would save about $400 million per year, which is what makes the CCC’s projects so significant.

The HPC Innovation Excellence Award program is intended to publicize and recognize significant contributions to business or science using HPC, in order to make funding bodies aware of its benefits and to expand public support for investment in HPC.

"The significance of HPC to the private sector will only be fully appreciated when examples such as these are recognized for their economic value," said Dr. Cynthia McIntyre, senior vice president for the HPC Initiative at the Council on Competitiveness.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) is a global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets, and is a subsidiary of The International Data Group (IDG).

The other award recipients for this round included three other organizations from the U.S. and one from India.