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U Michigan Will Spend $100 Million on New Data Science Initiative

The University of Michigan (U-M) will spend $100 million over the next five years to enhance the opportunities for students and faculty to take advantage of big data.

With the investment in Michigan's Data Science Initiative (DSI), the university will:

  • Hire 35 additional faculty members and engage more existing faculty in the initiative;
  • Support interdisciplinary data-related research initiatives;
  • Provide new academic programs for students interested in data science;
  • Expand its research computing capacity;
  • Strengthen data management storage, analytics and training resources; and
  • Establish the Michigan Institute for Data Science.

"Data science has become a fourth approach to scientific discovery, in addition to experimentation, modeling and computation," said U-M Provost Martha Pollack. "The DSI will launch challenge initiatives in four critical interdisciplinary areas that build on our existing strengths in transportation research, health sciences, learning analytics and social science research."

Among projects already in place at the university involving data science are:

  • Researchers at the Mobility Transformation Center are collecting data at a rate of 10 times per second on nearly 3,000 cars, trucks and buses on the streets of Ann Arbor, MI, to test the operation of connected vehicles;
  • Researchers are using data to boost the effectiveness of data-driven biomedical and health research to accelerate the transition from basic research to patient care;
  • Big data is being used to examine the nature of teaching and learning with the aim of providing instruction more closely tailored to individual students; and
  • Social scientists are looking at ways to use data that would replace or complement traditional surveying techniques.

"Big data is revolutionizing research in an extraordinary range of disciplines," said S. Jack Hu, interim vice president for research. "Our goal is to spark innovation in research across campus, while inspiring further advances in the techniques of data science itself."

An inaugural symposium on the launch of the DSI will be held on the Ann Arbor campus October 6.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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