University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance

Links

MassMutual Foundation donates $15M to boost computer science at UMass Amherst and Springfield

SPRINGFIELD -- MassMutual announced Friday that its MassMutual Foundation will donate $15 million to University of Massachusetts computer science programs over the next 10 years.

Of the $15 million, $12 million will support the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Center for Data Science with additional faculty, a doubling of the number of available courses and an expansion of the master's degree program.

In Springfield, the company will donate $3 million over 10 years to expand a cybersecurity certificate program taught at the university's center in MassMutual-owned Tower Square. The cybersecurity certificate program is an eight-week, 15-credit-hour program.

"We believe the world is moving in this direction very rapidly," said Nicholas A. Fyntrilakis, MassMutual vice president of community responsibility and president of the MassMutual Foundation.

The announcement follows MassMutual's establishment last year of its big-data analytics unit in Amherst, designed to improve collaboration with UMass. 

MassMutual also donated $2 million in 2015 to Smith College and Mount Holyoke College, for the schools to develop their own data science curriculum.

Data science is the burgeoning field of working with and learning from the oceans of numbers generated by our modern, connected and computerized world.

"Data science helps us make better decisions and better discoveries by learning from data and leveraging cutting-edge science and computation," said Andrew Kachites McCallum, professor and director of the UMass-based Information Extraction and  Synthesis Laboratory.

An example, he said, is farmers learning more about soil science through a number of remote sensors in the fields.

While UMass plans to work with MassMutual as it does with other corporate partners, the Springfield-based financial giant will not review research or direct academic efforts, McCallum said.

The cybersecurity program at UMass Springfield is starting small, with just eight students, said Tracy Mitrano, academic dean of the program.

Students range from undergraduates to graduate students and working professionals.

"Even an organized and very enthusiastic high-school student would be welcome," she said.

Fyntrilakis said there is demand for graduates in both programs. There are 9,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the state of Massachusetts alone. Projections say there will be more than 100,000 data science jobs in the state in the next few years.

 

By Jim Kinney | jkinney@repub.com 
Follow on Twitter