Campus & Community

Congress, President Biden Approve Funding for New Stevens Computing Resources

Nearly $1 million is awarded to the university to enhance research capabilities that will benefit society

Stevens’ leading-edge initiatives in critical areas such as artificial intelligence, flood prediction and fintech received significant support in the form of $960,000 in new federal funding. This financial support was made possible through the efforts of former New Jersey U.S. Representative Albio Sires (NJ-8) and U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez.

The funding, which was included in the Fiscal Year 2023 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill signed into law by President Joe Biden in December of 2022, will be used by Stevens to boost its research computing infrastructure. 

By enhancing storage and data processing capabilities, this investment aims to empower and support Stevens’ rapidly growing research enterprise. 

“These enhanced technical capabilities will expand Stevens’ information infrastructure and research footprint in multiple ways,” noted Stevens CIO and Vice President for Information Technology Tej Patel. 

“Faster and more robust computing capabilities will allow our researchers to process real-time data more efficiently than ever before. This significantly strengthens our ability to attack real-world challenges — and develop new technologies and solutions that support local and regional communities — as those challenges are happening.” 

Flood prediction, AI, fintech, disaster management

Among several uses, the new resources will enhance the Stevens Flood Advisory System (SFAS), which provides street-level-resolution, four-day-prediction of storm surge levels and coastal flooding along the shores of New Jersey and New York State. 

SFAS’ subscriber list includes some 1,400 agencies, officials and members of the general public, who use its predictions to plan for and mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events. Stevens has been operating the system since 2015. The new additions will significantly augment the system’s computing and predictive power. 

"This support will enable Stevens to take another great stride forward in performing research that directly benefits residents, businesses and government agencies in New Jersey and the metro region,” said Ed Synakowski, Vice Provost for Research and Innovation. “Local municipalities will particularly benefit from this near-term, local forecast capability of weather-related impacts at specific locations.” 

In addition to improving the prediction of impending flooding caused by fast-developing or fast-moving storms, the SFAS upgrades will increase the system’s coverage of wider and more detailed forecasts, including inland portions of coastal cities and lower-income communities that are disproportionally impacted by extreme events. 

“Stevens will use the most advanced technologies in remote sensing, data-driven analysis and AI-based short- and mid-range forecasts of atmospheric conditions to enhance and broaden SFAS’ footprint in New Jersey communities,” explained Muhammad Hajj, director of Stevens’ Davidson Lab, which created and maintains the SFAS and related observation systems.  

The new computing capabilities can also be utilized to enhance the accuracy of forecasting energy demand in local power grids and macrogrids during extreme weather conditions. Additionally, they can assist in predicting and mitigating long-term beach erosion in coastal areas and aid in managing local and regional traffic during natural disasters and emergencies. 

“This all means improved community safety and resiliency for our local and regional communities,” summarized Hajj. 

Beyond flood prediction and disaster management, these newly acquired computing capabilities will support a host of other Stevens research in critical societal areas. 

For instance, the university’s Center for Research toward Advancing Financial Technology (CRAFT) will harness these capabilities to develop innovative fintech solutions that forecast market crashes, ensure fairness in credit decisions and leverage quantum science and engineering. Moreover, these capabilities will aid in the sustained development of AI and big-data tools and applications across various fields, including public health, engineering and environmental science. 

“On behalf of Stevens Institute of Technology, I offer my gratitude to former Representative Sires and Senators Booker and Menendez, as well as President Biden, for choosing to support Stevens’ groundbreaking research,” said Stevens President Nariman Farvardin. 

“These technical upgrades and additions will bolster the university’s ability to produce real-time, actionable research that addresses critical national and global challenges and makes a meaningful difference in people’s lives.”