University Council Minutes: March 10, 2015

University Council Notes: Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Download the PDF of the UM Data Science PowerPoint presentation here.

Nancy Hinman, UM geosciences professor and assistant to the provost for special projects, presented “An Update on the Data Science Initiative Across our Campus.”

Hinman described how UM ramped up work on its Data Science Initiative about a year and a half ago. A large group of faculty members gathered together, and people were asked what they were working on and how they could work with the initiative.

Hinman said there is no total agreement on the meaning of “big data,” but at UM the initiative primarily involves an overlap of mathematical sciences, management information systems and computer science. She showed a slide illustrating hacking skills, math and statistics knowledge, and substantive expertise overlapping to create “Data Science.” Big Data also involves assurance (issues such as safety, security and compliance), forensics (Who hacked us and why? What is the digital trail?) and analytics (quantitative analytics and algorithms).

Hinman said there is high demand for big data professionals. She referenced a 2011 Information Week article that said the need for “deep analytics experts” and big data professionals would exceed supply by 190,000 positions by 2018 if current trends continue. In addition, U.S. enterprises will need 1.5 million more managers and business analysts who can ask the right questions and consume the results of big data analysis. 

She noted that UM Big Data efforts could offer major benefits for fields such as climate change, health, cyber security and media arts. Nine UM colleges and schools, including the Mansfield Library, are participating in the UM Data Science Initiative at this time.

Progress has included:

  • A professional certificate in network and information security at Missoula College.
  • A certificate in big data analytics involving the business school, mathematical sciences and computer science.
  • Research proposals now in progress.
  • Hardware donations by IBM and Symantec, as well as other donations from LMG, ALPS, GCS and Washington Corp.
  • The second annual Cyber Triathlon is slated for May 2.

Hinman said the first annual Cyber Triathlon last year yielded impressive results. The contest involved several student teams who addressed data mining, forensics and analytics problems. The event was held at the UC and the Cyber Innovation Lab. The Sentinel High School team actually led after the first round of competition.

Partners in the Data Science Initiative include UM, the business community, and local and state government.

Hinman said future goals are to be inclusive and diverse, develop a data science program to serve students and faculty, develop interdisciplinary research to further UM’s research goals and increase opportunities for students seeking internships and postgraduate employment.

At one point Hinman showed a film clip titled “A Forensic Analysis of Used Android Smartphones in Missoula.” It showed how a UM team analyzed six phones and was able to recover much deleted data, including 60 items directly related to financial information. She stressed how smart phones need to be totally wiped when they are sold.

During the Q-and-A portion of the meeting, there was a lively discussion about whether students or others would cross ethical boundaries with the skillsets UM is teaching. Hinman said society needs white (good guy) hackers to identify vulnerabilities. Riley said students also are bound by the UM student code of ethics.

2015 courses that are part of the data science initiative are:

Computer Science:

  • Applications of Mining Big Data
  • Applied Parallel Computing Techniques

Mathematical Sciences:

  • Theoretical Basics of Big Data Analytics and Real Time Computation Algorithms
  • Cognitive Computing (Algorithms) with IBM Watson

Management and Information Systems

  • Real Time Data Analytics
  • Cybersecurity Management

Marketing and Management

  • ST: Crushing It With Big Data

Information Technology System

  • Securing Desktop/Mobile Dev.
  • Securing Networks