While the 20th-century economies were driven and sustained by manufacturing capacity, the 21st-century economies will be driven in large part by technologies for data science. The rapid and sustained investments by federal agencies and non-profit foundations, which sums up to several hundred million dollars within the last four years alone, point to the importance attached to this area nationally. Data management and analytics is frequently mentioned as among the top issues concerning industry, cutting across many industrial sectors. It is important for Georgia Tech to be a thought leader in this impending data revolution, by leading both fundamental and applied research, engaging industry, and educating the future workforce.

In Industry, many are facing severe data challenges. The IRI can help translate research into practice through new partnerships across these different sectors in the region, create economic and societal benefits, and train a diverse workforce of data scientists. The IRI will support data needs of local industry in areas such as healthcare, logistics, transportation, finance, energy, manufacturing, and security. The IRI will collaborate with several State of Georgia stakeholders, including Georgia Economic Development, Technology Association of Georgia, and the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The IRI will also be an asset to other premier education, research, and public-serving institutions in Georgia, particularly Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control. Its proposed location in the upcoming Coda building on the Technology Square campus can act as a magnet for new ventures and industrial collaboration and innovation in data engineering and science.

Several challenges persist that are only now beginning to be addressed. Foundations of massive data analysis that cut across multiple domains with broad applicability are yet to be discovered. Another challenge is the wide gap between academic research spurred by big data investments and industry adoption of these ideas. The multi- and cross-disciplinary skills needed for tackling big data challenges require large and collaborative teams that operate outside of individual silos of expertise. There is a significant need for educating a skilled workforce and nurturing entrepreneurial activity. A 2011 study by McKinsey Global Institute anticipates the creation of 4 to 5 million data science jobs in the U.S. by 2018. It also estimates significant economic gains through the adoption of big data – for example, $300 billion per year in the U.S. healthcare sector alone, and $600 billion per year of economic value for services enabled by personal-location data.

Georgia Tech is in a position to be a preeminent leader in data science and engineering, and exert influence nationally and internationally. The proposed interdisciplinary research institute can catalyze GT big data research by bringing together researchers with multiple fields of expertise to solve grand challenge problems, develop and deploy shared resources for the collective benefit of our faculty and external stakeholders, and provide the external visibility necessary for succeeding in large funding competitions. Georgia Tech faculty and researchers have significant strengths in data science and allied disciplines that are undergoing a data revolution, and uniting under the IRI, our efforts will be coordinated, employ the best use of our resources, reach the best audiences and partners, and effect maximum change. 

This is proving to be an exciting journey and one I invite you to join.

Thank you,

Srinivas Aluru 
Executive Director
Institute for Data Engineering & Science