The National Water Center Innovators Summer Insitute has ended for this year!

Application details for the 2018 Summer Institute are coming soon! 

The 2017 Summer Institute took place at the University of Alabama and the National Water Center from June 12 - July 28, 2017. Student research fellows will collaborated intensively for seven weeks to work on projects designed to contribute to the NWC goals of enhancing water-related products and decision-support services across the country. To facilitate this process, project themes were defined in advance. The Summer Institute was led by faculty theme leads and daily oversight was provided by course coordinators. Following the Summer Institute, students attended the CUAHSI Hydroinformatics Conference at the University of Alabama July 25-27, 2017 to present their work during a special session. 

Please continue reading for additional information regarding program structure, student eligibility, and application deadlines for the 2018 Summer Institute. 

Questions can be sent to

  • About the Summer Institute

    The Office of Water Prediction of the NOAA National Weather Service has developed a National Water Center on the Tuscaloosa campus of the University of Alabama to serve as the hub for the building of a National Water Model of the United States, and has established a National Water Center Innovators  Program with CUAHSI to engage the academic community in research to enhance the National Water Model. The key activity of the Innovators Program is a 7-week Summer Institute at the National Water Center, bringing a group of graduate students together with faculty advisors and National Water Center staff to conduct group projects that involve rapid prototyping of new ideas. The intent is to create an innovation incubator where students from many universities can exchange ideas and advance concepts that, although they may be analyzed only for a short time and on a small study area, are illustrative of issues that will affect the functioning of the National Water Model across the continental United States.

    The first Summer Institute was held in June-July 2015, and focused on the formation of a prototype National Water Model running in the Texas Advanced Computing Center of the University of Texas at Austin, which demonstrated that the discharge on 2.7 million stream reaches of the United States could be simulated and forecast in real-time using input precipitation and weather information produced by NOAA and a computational framework called WRF-Hydro developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The key innovation demonstrated at the first Summer Institute was a hybrid grid-catchment information framework for the National Water Model in which the land-atmosphere computations were carried out on square grid cells covering the continental US, and the resulting runoff was geographically  transformed onto the 2.7 million catchments of the National Hydrography Dataset Plus (NHDPlus) and routed through the NHDPlus stream network. It was shown that the continental stream network could be treated in real-time as a single flow continuum, from atmosphere to oceans and from coast.

    The Summer Institute is now in its third iteration. Students apply to attend the program in the fall. Selected students then plan to reside in Tuscaloosa for the seven week program from June through July. Students are grouped into teams organized around projects defined by the theme leaders and pre-selected topics. While there may be some overlap with the students' individual MS/PhD research projects, the expectation is that the work and research done during the Summer Institute will be a separate, self-contained project. The three themes defined for this year's program are:


    • Hyper Resolution Simulation in Cities
    • Flood Inundation Mapping
    • Communicating National Water Center Results
  • Information for Prospective Students

    If you are interested in learning more about the Summer Institute, please take a look at the following resources:

    Questions regarding the Summer Institute can be sent to


  • Tentative Program Schedule

    The schedule below is meant to be provided as an example for prosepective Summer Institute applicants:

    Nov. 1 Student application period opens
    Dec. 18 Last day to submit applications 
    Mid-January Student awards issued
    Mid-February Deadline for students to confirm attendance 
    June 12 Registration and orientation at the University of Alabama
    June 13 Summer Institute begins
    July 21 Summer Institute ends
    July 24 Summer Institute Capstone Meeting 
    July 25-27 CUAHSI Hydroinformatics Conference at University of Alabama
    July 28 Students move off campus 
  • Program Eligibility

    Applications will be accepted from current and incoming graduate students and post-docs within three years of graduating with their PhD. Applicants must be affiliated with US universities. Applicants who are not US citizens will need to report their visa status. Due to security regulations, all accepted Fellows will be contingent upon a foreign national visitor approval process. Upon acceptance into the program. all participants will need to provide additional security clearance documents and fingerprints. 

    Additionally, students must be able to reside on-site at the University of Alabama for the entire program. 

  • Award

    Students selected to participate in the Summer Institute will receive room, board, and tuition to attend the SI. Dorm-style lodging will be provided at the University of Alabama. Students will have their own bedrooms, but will share a living suite. Due to the scale of the program, CUAHSI is unable to accommodate requests for single occupancy suites or housing for spouses or children. 

    The award also includes travel expenses for the student's advisor to make a trip to attend the bootcamp or Capstone event. 

  • How To Apply

    Application information and instructions will be posted in the fall of 2017.

  • 2017 Summer Institute Support Staff

    Below are the 2017 Theme Leaders responsible for content development for this year's Summer Institute: 


    David Maidment
    University of Texas at Austin
    Technical Director 
    Flood Inundation Theme Leader

    Emily Clark
    CUAHSI Course Coordinator

    Fred Ogden
    University of Wyoming
    Hyper Resolution Simulation in Cities Theme Leader
    Jim Nelson
    Brigham Young University
    Communicating National Water Model Results Theme Leader
    Sarah Praskievicz
    ​University of Alabama
    Activities in Tuscaloosa Theme Leader
    Sagy Cohen
    University of Alabama
    Activities in Tuscaloosa Theme Leader

Photo Credits: Emily Clark (CUAHSI), Andy Ernest, Liu Zhu