Laboratory of Computational Engineering of Helsinki University of Technology was established in August 1996 and has now grown to a multidiciplinary unit of 50 people. From the start the laboratory has focused on various issues of computational science and engineering, specifically on modelling and visualization of complex physical and technical processes. 1998 marks an important year, since two new professorships were established, one in Cognitive Technology and the other in Computational Materials Research, thus widening our scope in research and curriculum. At the undergraduate and graduate level we now offer as major/minor Computational Engineering, and Cognitive Technology, which aim to educate students to do research with computers, to develop computational modelling methods for solving complex problems, and to study human cognitive communication mechanisms. In addition the laboratory carries the responsibility of undergraduate Statistical Physics and Quantum Physics courses, and coordinates the research-oriented undergraduate curriculum in the Department of Electrical and Communications Engineering.
The main highlight of 1998 was the election of our laboratory by the Academy of Finland as the Centre of Excellence among 26 other centres for six year term from the beginning of 2000. In the Research Centre for Computational Science and Engineering we will focus on modelling, analysis and visualisation of complex physical, technical, economical and cognitive processes, and also do methodological development mainly for information technology applications. The research is conducted in three mutually supportive fields:
In Computational information technology (headed by Professor Jouko Lampinen) the focus is on modelling and analysing complex physical, technical and economic processes, as well as systems involving vast amounts of data. The studies employ advanced probabilistic and information theoretic methods and soft computing, for instance artificial neural networks. These methods are developed and applied for problems of pattern recognition, machine vision, data mining and intelligent human-machine interface.
In Computational materials research (headed by Professor Jukka Tulkki) the focus is on the structural, electronic and optical properties of materials, and micro- and nano-electronic component structures. Recent research topics include fracture and growth properties of metals, semiconductors and complex materials like smart fluids; electronic and optical properties in novel semiconductor structures, e.g. quantum dots and wires; and electronic, photonic and microelectromechanical components.
In Cognitive science and technology (headed by Professor Mikko Sams) the focus is on studies of neurocognitive mechanisms in human communication. The results are utilised in information technology applications, for instance in developing user interfaces that allow for natural human interaction. An example is a system ("artificial person") that can produce and recognise audiovisual speech. Knowledge of human communication mechanisms can be applied in developing advanced aids for disabled people, for example.