Creating big footprints in big data

A new NSERC CREATE grant for Dal

- May 16, 2014

Dr. Matwin (second from right) is the director of the Institute for Big Data Analytics. (Danny Abriel photo)

Dalhousie’s Stan Matwin is helping train Canada’s next generation of highly skilled innovators.

On Friday, the Honourable Ed Holder, Canada’s Minister of State (Science and Technology), announced the latest round of CREATE grants through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

Dr. Matwin, Canada Research Chair in Visual Text Analytics and director of Canada’s only Institute for Big Data Analytics, is among top researchers at seven Canadian institutions who will receive funding to develop training programs aimed to provide young researchers with opportunities to help them make the transition from trainees to productive employees in the Canadian workforce.

CREATE (Collaborative Research and Training Experience) provides leading research teams in the natural sciences and engineering with the resources to implement an applied training environment that combines research knowledge and experience with the personal and professional skills needed in industry or government workplaces.

Dalhousie has been very successful over the years when it comes to CREATE grants: almost one each year there’s been a competition.

A new "TRIBE" of talent


Dr. Matwin and his research team will receive $1.65 million in funding over the next six years towards their project, Training in Big Text Data (TRIBE). TRIBE will help train students (postdocs, PhD students, M.Sc. Students and select undergraduates) in various aspects of the Big Data Technologies spectrum.

“This training will be achieved, to a large extent, by students participating in focused, often times industrially-relevant research projects,” says Dr. Matwin. “In the case of TRIBE, all students will do an industry internship, and most of them will spend some time doing research in one of our partner universities, SFU and Universite de Montreal.”

Dr. Matwin says students participating in the project will receive a Graduate Certificate in Big Text Data if they follow a sequence of specific courses.  Those courses include ethics, entrepreneurship, communications and an industrial internship.

Meeting a growing demand


The amount of data managed by organizations in North America and around the world has exploded in recent years. Dr. Matwin says analyzing large data sets will become a key area of priority in many different domains, but a recent McKinley Report predicts a shortage of 140,000 data analysts in the US alone in the next four years.

“TRIBE will provide advanced training in areas of high demand, producing graduates that will be in high demand,” says Dr. Matwin.  “We will also increase the footprint of the Big Data Analytics Institute, as text data analytics is one of the main focuses of the institute and training personnel is one of its main priorities.”

The TRIBE project will begin with a pilot year, and carry on for the next five years will funding support from the federal government.

“After that, TRIBE should be autonomous and won’t require NSERC Funding,” says Dr. Matwin.

He adds that the CREATE grant will help the Institute of Big Data Analytics attract top-notch students, and provide the institute with the resources to work on state-of-the-art research projects.  

“As 15 projects were selected from the initial 120 applications, the CREATE grant is also a recognition of excellence towards the team we’ve put together, both at Dal and at our partner universities."


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