Universities diving into Big Data

UC Berkeley, University of Washington, NYU join forces on $37.8 million project

Educational institutions are increasingly on the case of making sense of growing piles of big data, and the latest data science effort involves UC Berkeley, the University of Washington and New York University joining forces under a program funded via $37.8 million in grants.

The effort, funded through the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Sloan Foundation, was announced last week in Washington, D.C., at an event hosted by John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The Obama administration last year announced plans for a $200 million Big Data Initiative under which programs like this fall.

“Big data is now a super-big deal,” Holdren said. Part of President Obama’s Big Data Initiative, which was announced last year, these collaborations will harness data in all areas to enhance economic growth and job creation, education and health, energy and environmental sustainability, public safety and global development.

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Credit: UC Berkeley

An artist’s rendering of the planned data science center at UC Berkeley Doe Library.

Saul Perlmutter, UC Berkeley professor of physics, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory senior scientist and director of the campus’s new data science institute, said the effort will make big data tools available to students and other researchers beyond those involved in traditional big data fields such as astrophysics and physics.. “We are trying to help researchers and students who previously did not work with the large amounts of data that they do now,” he said.

Data science centers are quite common these days, with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Pennsylvania being among other locations.

Data science isn't solely the purview of students and university researcher, however, with the title or at least job description of "data scientist" becoming more common at business organizations, too. A good thing for those students taking advantage of these centers in school.

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