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Most science and engineering labs in Illinois use data science in some way—this is just as true for industrials partners as it is for University of Illinois researchers. These labs are facing similar problems with managing, analyzing and collecting increasingly complex and decentralized data.

The Illinois Data Science Institute (iDSI) aims to address these problems by first listening to the people it aims to serve: scientists and engineers throughout the region. Having just started in late 2016, iDSI will spend all of 2017 identifying specific problems they face, particularly in solving grand challenges, with a series of summits and direct contact with iDSI staff. The Institute will also look for more additions to the staff, including filling five undergraduate positions, throughout the year.

At the same time, iDSI will build onto the National Center for Supercomputing Application’s Nebula cloud computing system, and use the addition to explore, prototype and document data science applications that address common problems staff identify.

By the year’s end, iDSI will be ready to apply to scale up into a full fledged institute and solve problems blocking progress on grand challenges. For now, it’s relying on seed funding from NCSA, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and the colleges of Engineering and Business to lay the foundation.