University of Michigan Launches $100M Big Data Initiative


The University of Michigan is launching a $100 million big data program that will include hiring new faculty and making new degree options available to students.

The new hires include 35 faculty positions over the next four years.

The University will also be looking at interdisciplinary research initiatives and aims to develop new methodological approaches to big data.

All academic units within the University are supporting the initiative. The school is also launching the Michigan Institute for Data Science to lead research and educational activities in big data.

“Data science has become a fourth approach to scientific discovery, in addition to experimentation, modeling, and computation,” said U-M Provost Martha Pollack. “To spur innovation while providing focus, the DSI will launch challenge initiatives in four critical interdisciplinary areas that build on our existing strengths in transportation research, health sciences, learning analytics and social science research.”

Michigan joins a growing group of Universities that have rapidly developed big data programs. At the state level, the University of Virginia and the University of Texas San Antonio have built new programs, among others.

The University of Michigan already operates a $1.3 billion research pool, so the $100 million addition is notable and will likely move U-M up in this cohort of academic programs. In a statement, the University noted that the Data Science Institute is already at work on some projects.

In one project at U-M’s Mobility Transformation Center, for example, researchers are collecting a continuous stream of data at a rate of 10 times per second from each of nearly 3,000 private cars, trucks and buses on the streets of Ann Arbor in order to test the operation of connected vehicles. The DSI will help collect, store and analyze the huge amount of data being generated even as the number of vehicles expands to more than 20,000.