The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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From the Director's Desk (Winter 2021)

With the Fall 2020 semester behind us and the Spring 2021 semester starting on Monday, online education and research continue apace. Thanks to months of practice holding classes and events online, we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. With vaccination programs ramping up, we’re more prepared than ever to continue delivering on our mission of “Computing for the Common Good” while looking forward to something that feels as close to pre-pandemic normalcy as possible.


On that note, I thoroughly enjoy teaching the Industry Mentorship graduate course each spring. This semester’s cohort of 59 master’s students will be tackling 25 technical projects under the guidance of working data scientists at 14 partner companies. This year I’ll be co-teaching the course with Tom Bernardin, the Center’s professional data scientist, and my doctoral student Lorraine Li will be serving as the course teaching assistant, thereby fulfilling one of the College’s PhD graduation requirements. Each year, mentorship projects give participating mentors a unique opportunity to engage closely and collaborate with aspiring student data scientists, while producing new business-relevant insights, many of which result in publications in top venues. Access to this opportunity is one of the benefits available to CDS industry affiliates. Contact us to learn how your company can sponsor a project!


I’m also excited to announce that this year, CDS is collaborating with the College of Information and Computer Sciences to organize and run the 2021 Symposium on Computing for the Common Good. This fully online event will take the place of the annual Data Science Research Symposium, last held in April 2019. (In 2020, the pandemic ultimately forced us to abandon plans for a symposium.) Data science will still figure prominently, and we will be able to highlight the broadest possible spectrum of research efforts that are relevant to industry and also contribute to advancing the interests of the commonwealth and its citizens. Stay tuned for further details!


That’s all for now. I’ll catch up with you again towards the end of the semester. Until then, best wishes for all to stay healthy, safe and productive—and to get vaccinated as soon as you can!