Big momentum for big data

A multi-university collaboration called CARET

- November 27, 2013

Michael Shepherd, dean of the Faculty of Computer Science, at the launch of the Institute for Big Data Analytics earlier this year. (Danny Abriel photo)
Michael Shepherd, dean of the Faculty of Computer Science, at the launch of the Institute for Big Data Analytics earlier this year. (Danny Abriel photo)

With big data projects in the works across several faculties, at the institutional level in a unique post-secondary collaboration and at the student level through the Faculty of Computer Science, it’s safe to say Dal’s making its mark in the big data community.

Last November, Dalhousie joined six other post-secondary institutions in Nova Scotia institutions to partner with IBM Canada toward a common goal: create career opportunities for new graduates and launch research in the fast-emerging fields of data analytics and optimization.

"A collaboration involving seven post-secondary institutes in Nova Scotia is a unique way to address an upcoming skills shortage in an important sector,” says Michael Shepherd, dean of the Faculty of Computer Science.

The project is called the Collaboration for Analytics Research, Education and Technology (CARET). Dr. Shepherd also sits on CARET’s executive steering committee.

Expanding academic and research opportunities  

CARET’s member institutions are examining ways to develop curriculum and research together. The first step, though, is to set up a shared computing infrastructure, or “cloud,” so everyone can work collaboratively and share data sets easily between campuses all across the province.

Today, IBM Canada announced it’s providing CARET with a multi-million dollar cloud computing system that will be operational in early 2014. The hardware will be hosted in Dal’s data centre at the Killam Library.

“The ability to share a common system among all schools allows us to get started on collaborating as educators and researchers to meet our shared goals,” says Dr. Shepherd. “There are always benefits to working together and this shared infrastructure will really allow CARET to leverage each institution’s unique programming, resulting in highly skilled students ready to enter the workforce."

In addition to Dal’s participation in CARET, the Faculty of Computer Science launched the Institute for Big Data Analytics last summer. And next fall, students working towards a Bachelor of Computer Science degree can opt to take a data science specialization, receiving a certificate to complement their degree.

Interested in learning more about this topic? You can attend a live Google+ Hangout panel discussion this Friday (November 29) at 1 p.m. ADT. There, you’ll hear from Andrew Rau-Chaplin of Dal’s Faculty of Computer Science and others on how IBM, governments and more than a dozen Canadian universities are applying cloud and analytics technologies. Questions can be asked on Twitter using the hashtag #Convo4Change.


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