The ability to mine large quantities of data for helpful nuggets of useful information is in great demand; a report from Gartner Inc. estimates that 4.4 million “big data” jobs will be created worldwide by 2015.
To help prepare University of Virginia students to fill those needs, the University is among 30 new schools entering into an Academic Initiative with IBM this month to help create big data and analytics-focused curricula.
“This new partnership with IBM allows us to expand the opportunities and resources we provide to our students,” said Don Brown, director of U.Va.’s Data Science Institute. “They not only will have access to the latest data science and analytics-focused technology, hardware, curricula material, case studies and guest lecturers through this venture, they also will get to network with peers and leaders in the field to see where they might best fit into this new and burgeoning career stream.”
With 2.5 quintillion bytes of information generated daily from multiple sources, including sensors, RFID networks, mobile devices and social media, big data has created opportunity for job candidates who can uncover insights to solve problems and act on findings quickly, while helping organizations enter new markets and gain a competitive edge. Between now and 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a faster-than-average increase in employment opportunities for computer and information research scientists. Yet, a recent IBM CFO study notes that while 82 percent of those surveyed see the value of integrating enterprise-wide data, only 24 percent think their team is up to the task.
In an interview in September, Brown described what sets U.Va.’s Data Science Institute apart from other such institutes, of which he estimates there are around 10.
“What makes U.Va. distinct is that this is a program that is not a discipline or a department or even a school,” Brown said. “It is above that – it instead is multidisciplinary, functioning across multiple schools. Most of the programs at other universities are in a single discipline; so, for instance, you’ll see them in business, in statistics, in computer science, in engineering, but you won’t see the combination of disciplines that we have here. That’s what makes our effort special. … There’s nothing else out there like it.”
U.Va. will launch an 11-month, interdisciplinary professional master’s program – the Master of Science in Data Science – in July. Faculty from all 11 schools will learn IBM technology, including Infosphere Big Insights and Infosphere Streams, in order to guide, mentor and eventually evaluate the student cohorts that will address an important data science challenge through a capstone experience.