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White House To Universities: We Need More Data Scientists

New York University, University of California-Berkeley, and the University of Washington are launching a $37.8 million project to boost the numbers of American data scientists.

[Image: Flickr user MCS@flickr]

It's official: America needs more data scientists. This week, a $37.8 million project to boost data science in academia was announced at a meeting sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The funding, provided with support by two charitable foundations, will create a partnership between New York University, University of California-Berkeley, and the University of Washington to steer graduates into data science work and increase the use of advanced analytics and data management work in the sciences. Simply put: All three universities want to increase the use of big data by their researchers and to steer graduates towards an important and lucrative job field.

Funding for the initiative is being provided with the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (of Moore's Law fame) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. "It's been hard to establish these essential (data science) roles as durable and attractive career paths in academic research," Josh Greenberg of the Sloan Foundation said in a press release. "This joint project will work to create examples at the three universities that demonstrate how an institution-wide commitment to data scientists can deliver dramatic gains in scientific productivity."

Researchers at the three schools will work on collaborative projects to develop tools and software environments, establish niches in academia for data scientists, strengthen toolsets for current students, and build bridges with other researchers for collaborative opportunities.