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IBM Adds 5 Schools to Big Data Academic Initiative; Grants $14K for Course Research and Innovation

IBM has built out its thousand-strong higher ed partnerships by adding five additional education entities in the United States to its Academic Initiative focused on big data and analytics. The company also announced more than $140,000 in awards to instructors for research and curricula development on big data.

The latest set of industry-academia collaborations takes many forms. The George Washington University School of Business, for example, is working with IBM to launch a master of science degree in business analytics this fall, with career track electives in healthcare, supply chain, marketing, and sports analytics. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is about to launch a new master of science in business analytics degree through the Lally School of Management and Technology. This one-year, 30-credit program will use IBM course materials, case study projects, software, and guest lecturers. IBM recently donated a Watson computer system to Rensselaer, to help educate campus users about cognitive computing and build out their understanding of big data and analytics.

The other U.S. universities are pursuing less ambitious offerings. The Georgetown University McDonough School of Business offered a one-week summer course to give MBA students an introduction to big data by having them work with products such as InfoSphere BigInsights, IBM's data management and analytics tool. This fall the University of Missouri College of Engineering's Department of Computer Science & IT will offer Big Data Analytics, a new undergrad course. And Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies, which launched two analytics graduate degrees last year with IBM, is expanding big data course content in two continuing education programs.

"Leaders in business, education, and government must take action to foster a new generation of talent with the technical expertise and unique ideas to make the most of this tsunami of big data," said Richard Rodts, manager of global academic programs for IBM. To narrow the coming skills gap for data- and analytics-savvy professionals, he added, "IBM is committed to partnering with universities around the world...to make an impact in today's data-driven marketplace."

The company also announced the winners of its 2013 Big Data and Analytics Faculty Awards. Fourteen professors will receive $10,000 each for creating winning course matter that teaches business and technical skills required for data-crunching jobs. The winning proposals include programs focused on computer science and electrical engineering, business administration, economics, strategic management, and math and statistics.

Among the winners are these faculty members:

  • University of Arkansas' David Douglas developed modules for teaching customer insights and discovery using a number of datasets hosted by the university, including demographic data from major corporations to help students learn how to do data mining and visualization of big data.
  • Drexel University's Jeffrey Popyack built curriculum to introduce cloud frameworks such as Amazon S3, InfoSphere BigInsights, Apache Hadoop, and MapReduce into the computer science tracks with an emphasis on parallelism, scalability, big data, and machine learning.
  • Radford University's Jeff Pittges built out an online learning environment to include InfoSphere BigInsights for text analysis of customer feedback and use Cognos to replace Microsoft Access Reports and QlikView dashboards.
  • Fordham University's W. "R.P." Raghupathi developed a course elective on big data strategic issues such as governance, ethics, privacy and security, and data quality.

In many of the cases, the materials created by the winners will be made available to other schools that participate in the Academic Initiative.

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