Inside Rensselaer
Volume 7, No. 12, August 30, 2013

In June, President Jackson announced the launch of the Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications (IDEA). Photo by Kris Qua

Tackling Big Data

Rensselaer Launches The Institute for Data Exploration and Applications

Rensselaer has launched a new universitywide initiative to tackle the challenges and opportunities of Big Data. The new Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications (IDEA) brings together and fortifies the wealth of data science, high performance computing, predictive analytics, data visualization, and cognitive computing research at Rensselaer.

The Rensselaer IDEA represents an investment by Rensselaer of $60 million, and involves faculty members and students from more than 12 departments across the five schools of the university. The new research institute serves as a hub for Rensselaer faculty, staff, and students engaged in data-driven discovery and innovation. Through the use of the vast amounts of available data, they are addressing some of the most challenging problems facing our world—from energy security and job creation to sustainability and health care.

“The Rensselaer IDEA will maximize the ability of our researchers to harness the expanding possibilities for discovery and innovation in a data-driven, supercomputer-powered, web-enabled, globally interconnected world,” said President Shirley Ann Jackson. “Working across disciplines and sectors, they will apply powerful new tools and technologies to access, aggregate, and analyze data from multiple sources and in multiple formats, in order to address challenges and opportunities across the spectrum, including in basic research, environment and energy, water resources, health care and biomedicine, business and finance, public policy, and national security. Educated in this context, with new approaches and analytical capabilities, our students—the next generation of discoverers, innovators, and entrepreneurs—will be better equipped to truly change the world.”

The Rensselaer IDEA is anchored in the strength of the university in six primary areas: high-performance computing, web science, data science, network science, cognitive computing, and immersive technologies.

The new institute connects faculty members and students with four critical research platforms: the CCNI supercomputing center, the IBM Watson cognitive computing system, the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, and the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. With these resources, IDEA researchers will innovate new theories, technologies, and applications in many areas, a particular emphasis in seven key pillar arenas: health-care analytics, business intelligence, built and natural environments, virtual and augmented reality systems, cybersecurity applications, basic research in physical and engineering sciences, and public policy.

“The Rensselaer IDEA is a culmination of the university’s first phase of investment, under The Rensselaer Plan, in faculty, research programs, platforms, and partnerships. With the formation of the Rensselaer IDEA, we will innovate new data-driven solutions to important and complex challenges facing every family, every community, and every nation,” said Vice President for Research Johnathan Dordick.”

Professor James Hendler, head of the Department of Computer Science, will serve as the director of the Rensselaer IDEA.

“From improving health care, to environmental stewardship, to creating new educational technologies, researchers at Rensselaer are known internationally for using data science to attack some of the world’s most pressing problems,” Hendler said.



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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 7, Number 12, August 30, 2013
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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