The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Industry Mentorship Program

The Industry Mentorship Program is an exclusive benefit of the Industry Affiliates Program. The program matches small teams of data science Master's students with an industry-proposed project. Over the course of an academic semester each team works under the guidance of an industry mentor.


View the published papers that came out of Industry Mentorship Program projects in past years.


Program Objectives:

  • Small teams of MS-level data science students at UMass Amherst get the opportunity to work on industry-relevant problems, with guidance and mentoring from industry data science professionals.

  • Companies get the opportunity to make cost-effective progress on data science exploratory problems of interest, leveraging the effort of students who are in the midst of data science training. Company professionals “learn alongside” the student teams.

  • As a result of the experience of working with these students companies may find candidates for future internships and full-time roles.

  • Past versions of this course have resulted in multiple publications, including two best papers awards.

Program Selection Criteria:  

Students are selected for the course based on their past courses taken, past project and research experience, technical skills, and a written statement of purpose.  Natural language processing, neural networks, and machine learning are typically the most important courses that position a student for success. Selection criteria varies somewhat each year depending on the nature of that year’s projects.


How It Works for Industry Partners:

  • Industry partners propose one or more projects of their interest suitable for a team of 3-5 machine-learning-trained MS students for a one-semester class.  (One or two paragraphs is sufficient.)

  • MS students apply, are selected, and formed into teams by UMass, building teams with relevant background and interests.

  • Industry mentor meets with their team by video conference once every 1-2 weeks throughout the semester to give advice and technical guidance.  The teams are also locally advised by a topically relevant PhD student.

  • The students also participate in a course on campus, receiving lessons on research pragmatics, methodology, presentation skills, etc.

  • Supporting datasets should be made available by the company for use by students who will be working on University premises with University equipment and resources.

  • Per University policy, any intellectual property created by the student teams during the project will be owned by the University. Software that is created is typically open sourced, and the results published or publicly disclosed without restrictions.


How It Works for Masters Students:

  • In mid-October Professor McCallum sends an email to all MS students in Computer Science inviting them to apply to the Industry Mentorship Program aka COMPSCI 696DS.  It is only open to students that are enrolled in the Data Science concentration.  Students must have taken two of the core courses to be eligible for this program.
  • In late November students that have applied will be given a list of industry projects and asked to indicate their preferences.
  • In late December students will find out if they got into the course and what project they were assigned to.  There are many factors taken into consideration in making the teams for each project and everyone's preferences cannot be met. We will have the accepted students enrolled in SPIRE.
  • CompSci 696DS is equivalent to an independent study.


Key dates for the Spring 2022 semester:

11/15/21: Deadline for industry mentors submitting project descriptions.  

1/10/22: Students are matched to projects

1/25/22: Spring semester starts

Feb: First report and presentation

Late Mar - Early April: Midpoint report and presentation

May: Final report and presentation



To learn more, contact us at