Amherst Cyberinfrastructure Consortium

for Engineering and Science Synergy (ACCESS)


H. Henning Winter, ACCESS Director,

University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA 01003, USA


Starting date of consortium:  October 1, 2007

Foundation members may join during the exploratory year from  October 1, 2006 to September 30, 2007


A quiet technological revolution has changed everything we used to know about data handling and computer modeling. Instead of focusing energy on data generation, we now get overwhelmed by insurmountable volumes of data; instead of being constrained by inadequate computing facilities, we are now swamped with powerful modeling codes and computing options. Under these changed conditions, new types of computer tools called “cyberinfrastructure” (CI) are required. These tools will support search activities, help with the decisions of which data&codes to use or not to use, facilitate code-code coupling and code-data coupling, and display results graphically. Such revolutionary CI will allow a diverse community of researchers, educators, and industrial practitioners to join resources in a virtual organization.

This changed situation especially pertains to the development of new materials and their optimal application. It requires the development of suitable CI tools that potentially will allow industrial users to adjust rapidly to changing needs of the market and to respond to the pressure of obtaining short-term solutions in a competitive environment. These tools will also allow for a powerful new style of networking that will fundamentally change interactions both within industry and between industry and expert groups. No additional personnel or major resources are necessary in order to implement these significant benefits. The new standard of success in industry will be measured in two important ways – by how well industry utilizes CI technology, and by the ability of industry to train a CI-literate work force. The company with the most effective CI tools and best CI-trained work force will be the most competitive.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) invites industry to tap into this potential and take part in the foundation of a consortium under the name of ACCESS (Amherst Cyberinfrastructure Consortium for Engineering and Science Synergy). The technical focus of ACCESS is on the rheology and processing of complex materials, with a potential future expansion into related areas. New workflow technology will be developed for integrating experimental results and software codes (data-code coupling) as used in the industrial workplace. Integration of diverse software codes (code-code coupling) is of primary importance as well. Founding members (joining before 10/2007) will decide on the topical focus of ACCESS and will benefit from a reduced membership fee.


Description of ACCESS:

Vision of ACCESS: To empower industry with CI tools to expedite the development of new materials and new processing. The focus is on the rheology and processing of complex materials, with a potential future expansion into related areas.

Specific Plan: We will develop intuitive and easy-to-use tools for integrating experimental results and software codes for materials design and processing. We have begun with the writing a XML data standard that will couple data with modeling codes.  XML is favored since it easily interfaces with standard data programs such as ExcelR. Furthermore, a research focus will be chosen jointly with the advisory board.

Major Research Results in the Past: CI technology has been established for the specific area of rheology (Rheol Acta 2006, 45:331-338). The rheology CI includes data-code coupling and code-code coupling. It is fully functional, well tested, and is known under the name “IRIS” (

Relation of ACCESS to IRIS Development LLC: ACCESS and IRIS operate independent of each other. ACCESS will operate under the Office of Grants and Contracts at UMass while the IRIS rheology tool kit is licensed from IRIS Development LLC. ACCESS will emulate IRIS technology but has a much wider scope. However, the XML data standard of ACCESS will also apply to the IRIS’s multi-scale code. The IRIS rheology tool kit will continue to grow, preferably through the integration of codes that are not suitable for ACCESS.

Current Activities and Administrative Structure: An XML data standard is in progress and will be tested in an example (non-isothermal pressure flow). During the ACCESS foundation year, feasibility studies will be discussed with the founding members in order to prioritize the planned work under ACCESS.

Benefits to Members: Members will enjoy early access to results; support with implementation of CI tools at the company level; development of new CI as decided by the advisory board of ACCESS.

Obligations of Members: An active membership and participation in the ACCESS advisory board.