A new center in Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Science is dedicated to advancing techniques that transform raw data into useful information.
The Data and Predictive Analytics Center will focus on collecting, transforming, modeling and visualizing data sets often referred to as “Big Data.”
“The ability to mine large amounts of data to discover patterns and make actionable predictions is revolutionizing 21st century science, medicine, engineering, business and many more fields,” said Sophia Maggelakis, dean of RIT’s College of Science.
Data scientists are in demand. The emerging field was ranked one of the hottest in 2016, according to Glassdoor, a website that tracks trends in the labor market. Data analysis techniques draw upon skills that combine mathematics and statistics, computer and information sciences, machine learning and other areas.
The Data and Predictive Analytics Center is gearing up to be a campus-wide hub of interdisciplinary research and industry connections. The center and its labs will advance basic and applied research techniques. It will support related courses and the “data analytics and simulation of complex systems” track in the new Ph.D. in mathematical modeling, the College of Science’s fourth doctoral program. The center will also provide training sessions and internships for students.
“The Data and Predictive Analytics Center will give RIT a platform in a field that has the power to transform science, medicine, engineering, social sciences and nearly every discipline that generates data,” Maggelakis said. “The interdisciplinary center will promote the sharing of ideas and expertise among faculty and students working on large-scale data analytics.”
Student researchers will collect, transform and analyze data through real-world projects. Students working with Anthony Harkin, associate professor in RIT’s School of Mathematical Sciences, mine large open government data sets in his lab within the center. They are gaining experience collecting and analyzing raw data to make information related to all levels of government transparent and accessible to the public.
Maggelakis established the center with a corporate gift from icitizen and appointed Mihail Barbosu, former head of RIT’s School of Mathematical Sciences, to lead the initiative.
“Data is all kind of information,” said Barbosu, director of the Data and Predictive Analytics Center. “It’s not just numerical, it’s imagery, it’s sound. It can be social data, data from satellites, business. It’s all around us. The project and the questions you ask determine how you organize the data and what tools you use.”
Weekly seminars and activities are intended to build a community of faculty, staff and students interested in data analytics. Barbosu has formed an undergraduate data-science research club and seeks opportunities for student co-ops. Connections through the center have already led to independent studies for two RIT undergraduates at ITT Goulds Pumps in Seneca Falls, N.Y.
For more information about the Data and Predictive Analytics Center, contact Mihail Barbosu at firstname.lastname@example.org.