IDEaS Unites Data Science Researchers and Industry

<p>Several participants of the IDEaS Data Science Industry Day on March 28, 2018.<br />
Photo credit: Shkina Halbert</p>

Several participants of the IDEaS Data Science Industry Day on March 28, 2018.
Photo credit: Shkina Halbert

Georgia Tech's Institute for Data Engineering and Science (IDEaS) brought together members of the data science community from local industry and academia in Technology Square for its first Data Science Industry Day. Nearly 120 people attended, including more than forty corporate participants, with the rest comprising Georgia Tech faculty, researchers and students. The event was held to familiarize local industry with IDEaS, increase collaboration to advance research and the application of data science, and contribute to economic development.


Several objectives were accomplished, including beginning a vibrant discussion that identified specific areas of mutual interest between corporate attendees and IDEaS-affiliated researchers. Follow-up activities are being planned to increase industry engagement with IDEaS.


Co-Executive Director Srinivas Aluru kicked off the event, and Georgia Tech’s Executive Vice President of Research Stephen E. Cross welcomed the day’s participants with a view of interdisciplinary research across Georgia Tech. Several presentations by industry and researchers served to share expertise, challenges, and perspectives, and to begin a conversation between participants. 


The day opened with introductory presentations. Dr. Aluru addressed the structure and goals of the data science institute at Georgia Tech. “Georgia Tech historically prides itself in applied innovation and being an asset to industry,” he said. “In the area of data science in particular, most of the big data problems originate in industry, making academia-industry collaboration not only preferable, but essential.”


Director of Industry Partnerships Renata Rawlings-Goss provided an overview of opportunities for industry to become involved via the IDEaS Industry Alliance Program. Of the event she said, “Industry participation in the data science ecosystem here at Georgia Tech is truly a win-win for both sides. We have top ranked programs, faculty, and research here at Tech, but we also strive to be good partners in the dynamic industry analytics community here in Atlanta and nationally. Industry Day is one way we listen and connect with Industry partners and local companies.” Dr. Rawlings-Goss asked interested industry and faculty researchers to get involved by contacting her.


IDEaS is also closely allied with the South Big Data Hub, with Aluru (as the hub PI) and Rawlings-Goss (as the hub Co-Executive Director) serving in leadership roles of both entities. Although this is the first Data Science Industry Day, IDEaS has run workshops dedicated to bridging industry and academia in the past, in disciplines like materials and manufacturing, analytics and machine learning, precision medicine, and IoT for smart and connected cities and campuses.


Several themed panels took place in the late morning and afternoon:


Dana Randall, co-executive director of IDEaS, moderated the session on Centers and Educational Programs. Faculty and staff from Georgia Tech highlighted several opportunities:

  • Dr. Zsolt Kira discussed the Machine Learning Center and the Machine Learning Ph.D. Program
  • Dr. Polo Chau provided an overview of the M.S. in Analytics, of which he is also program director
  • Dr. Ellen Zegura described the summer fellowship program Data Science for Social Good
  • Renata Rawlings-Goss summarized the many opportunities available through the NSF South Big Data Regional Innovation Hub, of which she is a co-executive director
  • Dr. Xiaoming Huo and principal investigator of the National Science Foundation Transdisciplinary Research Institute for Advancing Data Science (TRIAD) gave an overview of this program
  • Anthony Zivalich highlighted opportunities for industry collaboration in the upcoming CODA Building


David Sherrill, an IDEaS associate director, moderated the session on AI and Deep Learning. Panel participants included

  • Vijay Reddy of Google discussing “Practical Machine Learning Using the Google Cloud”
  • Ashok Goel of Georgia Tech presenting on “Vera, A Virtual Research Assistant: Combining AI and Big Data to Support Scientific Modeling”
  • Christopher Yasko of Equifax spoke about “White Box Neural Networks for Predictive Risk Models”


Deirdre Shoemaker, an IDEaS associate director, moderated the session on Graph Analytics and Anomaly Detection

  • Jason Riedy of Georgia Tech presented “Streaming Graph Analysis: New Models, New Architectures”
  • Umit Catalyurek of Georgia Tech discussed “High Performance Graph Analytics”
  • Sophia Velastegui of Microsoft spoke about “Graph Analytics at Microsoft”


Marilyn Wolf, an IDEaS associate director, moderated the session on Unstructured Data Analytics (Video, Text, Image) 

  • Lan Guan of Accenture discussed “AI-Powered Advanced Customer Engagement Solution”
  • Khalifeh AlJadda of CareerBuilder presented “Search for Things not Strings: Towards Smart Information Retrieval Systems”


Between panel presentations, multiple “rapid fire” industry sessions encouraged industry guests to introduce themselves, describe their company and work, and how they envision interacting with Georgia Tech. 


The evening concluded with poster presentations from nearly thirty students in the event’s three theme areas of AI and machine learning, graph analytics and anomaly detection, and unstructured data composed of text, image, and video.


The event was planned by Shkina Halbert of IDEaS.


IDEaS extends its sincere thanks to Accenture, Microsoft, Microsoft Research, United HealthCare, and Equifax for sponsoring our event.




IDEaS at Georgia Tech

The Institute for Data Engineering and Science unifies data science researchers and resources spanning all disciplines throughout Georgia Tech to take on grand challenges in data science. It strategically builds collaborations and supporting resources to stimulate foundational research in areas such as machine learning, high-performance computing, and algorithms and optimization. It identifies and unites researchers to pursue collaborative and ambitious funding opportunities, to drive research, and to evolve and promote data science education. IDEaS provides an accessible and stable means of navigating the vast landscape of data science research and opportunities internally, and externally as it connects to industry and other partners. Join the conversation by contacting a member of the IDEaS team and learn more at



Interdisciplinary Research Institutes at Georgia Tech

The twelve Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IRIs) of Georgia Tech are responsible for bringing together a mix of researchers – spanning colleges, departments, and individual labs – around a single core research area. IRIs also connect a large portfolio of basic and applied research programs, support world-class research facilities and laboratories, engage Georgia Tech students, and collaborate with government and industry research partners.

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