Big Data Conference a Great Experience for Graduate Students

State Representative Nancy Nathanson kicked off the UO’s Big Opportunities with Big Data Conference on August 8th by highlighting the opportunities and threats our data driven economy presents, the importance of big data analysis for Oregon industries, and the necessity of leveraging Oregon resources in support of Oregon academic institutions and small businesses. She noted the necessity of developing a workforce trained to meet the challenges of intelligibly generating, curating, storing, managing and analyzing big data to provide a competitive advantage for Oregon companies.

The conference brought students, faculty and private industry partners from across Oregon together under one roof in the Ford Alumni Center to create connections in the exciting new field of big data. Big data refers to large data sets that are difficult to manipulate and analyze using traditional data processing tools and methods. Industries that are able to analyze big data may gain a competitive edge and those that aren’t should be aware that big data is impacting key industries in Oregon including agriculture, forestry, marine, and healthcare businesses. The conference drew nearly 200 attendees and was organized around topics including social media, medical informatics, big data challenges, and biology.

The Engineering and Technology Industry Council (ETIC), a partnership of industry professionals whose mission is to make postsecondary engineering and technology education a strategic resource that fuels the Oregon economy and creates opportunity for all Oregonians, funded the conference. A wide array of professionals and students showed up to the event, creating opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, networking, and even employment interviews for graduate students. The event attracted more than 60 graduate students in addition to faculty members from Oregon Health and Sciences University, Portland State University, and Oregon State University. Attendees represented fields from Media Studies, Psychology and Law to Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math and Computer and Information Science. Industry professionals showed great interest in the Big Data conference, with over forty representatives participating. A sampling of the organizations in attendance included Illumina, Eugene Water and Electric Board, Peacehealth, n-LINK, Oregon Healthcare Workforce Institute, Kaiser Permanente, and IBM. Andy Berglund, Interim Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology, stated, “This was a great event for graduate students to connect with local industry and to hear about potential career opportunities.”

The 2014 Big Opportunities with Big Data conference shared several cross-over events with the META Center’s 2014 symposium including the keynote presentation of Dr. Curtis Huttenhower, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health. For detailed information on the 2014 Big Opportunities with Big Data conference, please see the website. Check back later for information on the 2015 conference!

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