On the first day of classes, Aug. 31, construction workers will begin laying the foundation for Wegmans Hall, the planned 58,000-square foot building which will house the Goergen Institute for Data Science. The Institute itself will continue to expand this year, offering a Masters program in Data Science for the first time as well as planning another faculty search and a monthly colloquium series. It also plans to formally announce an industrial affiliates program in the next month or so.
Henry Kautz, the Robin & Tim Wentworth Director of the Institute for Data Science and a professor of computer science, explained, “One of the new things we wanted to do with our data science degree programs, at both the Bachelors and Masters level, is to really incorporate some real-world, industry-based, problem-solving directly in certain classes.”
So far, the Institute’s industrial affiliates include 15-20 local companies and a number of national companies. Some of these affiliates, Kautz said, will help “sponsor and mentor a student research project that will be part of their course work for their degree.”
Kautz added that the Institute is working on providing “more support and organization for students’ internships,” with plans for an industrial affiliates fair in the winter where students interested in data science and its related fields can interact with companies and learn about internship opportunities.
For the wider student body, Kautz said that organizers of the monthly colloquium series are seeking “themes of broad interest.”
Rather than pure data analytics or computer science, the talks could help illustrate the many applications of data science through topics like data analytics in health care or applications in political science or law.
“We want to open people’s eyes and educate them about the range of possibilities,” Kautz said.
Kautz, along with assistant professor of computer science Mohammed Hoque and Brain & Cognitive Sciences professors Greg DeAngelis and Robert Jacobs, received a National Science Foundation research traineeship award in April for a new graduate education program exploring the connection between artificial intelligence and neuroscience.
While the Data Science program emphasizes graduate education, its classes and research projects will also involve undergraduates. Kautz foresees “a lot more opportunities for student research” in general.
Outside of the classroom, students will notice major changes to the science and engineering quad. The new Wegmans Hall will be located next to Hopeman Engineering Building and at the midway of Hutchison Road, so that Hutchison Road will no longer connect Wilson Boulevard and Intercampus Drive.
Construction will go on during classes, typically from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m, and will be continuous through the fall of 2016. By November of this year, project manager Greg Meyer said that students will “start seeing the structure of the building.”
Meyer expects that the building will be complete and ready for occupancy in December 2016, and that the completion of Wegmans Hall will overlap with the redesign of the Science and Engineering Quad.