Hello, I'm a PhD candidate student in Chemical Engineering.
My Lab is about to purchase a new computer. Our budget is about 3000-3500 Euros (~ 4000-4800 USD).
Our main research interests are Process Control and Optimization in Chemical Engineering. We rely heavily on Maple for symbolic calculations and Matlab for simulations and numerical calculations.
We already have a few P4's but they have proven inadequate for a number of tasks so we were thinking about purchasing a more powerful system. A cluster system has been one of the suggestions but we are not sure how to employ it, given that most of our code is designed to be linear (we are not programmers by profession, only by -informal- training). A friend (a software engineer) suggested a system with 4 dual core processors and lots of fast RAM as his best bet.