In a recent article in the Financial Times, Jennifer Thompson, outlines that the “wealth of nations and individuals is ever more likely to be influenced by computer algorithms…..underpinning those machines and algorithms are real people, namely the world’s sharpest mathematicians and data scientists. Though not hard to identify, virtually every industry — and especially Big Tech — is competing with the financial world for their skills.”
Ireland is getting ready to train the next generation of researchers in the area of Data Science and ICT. The Irish government through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is investing approximately €80M to establish a number of Centres for Research Training (CRTs) in Ireland. These CRTs will provide cohorts of academically outstanding future research leaders with the skills and knowledge required to address the future challenges of an ever-changing work environment.
A consortium of the University of Limerick, Maynooth University and University College Dublin, is proposing to establish a CRT with an emphasis on training students in the underpinning Mathematical, Statistical, and ICT skills by leading experts in the field. Building upon this strong mathematical, statistical and ICT foundation, the CRT will examine challenges in critical application areas such as Data Analytics, Machine Learning, Networks, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Manufacturing and Health.
To ensure the CRTs are aligned with Ireland’s future skills needs, the CRT model requires a strong partnership with Enterprise. As well as contributing to the future talent pipeline, this allows companies to participate in research projects in selected areas that will advance their current capability.
The Centre for Research Training in the Foundation of Data Science for Industry and Enterprise consortium has begun an intensive consultation process with thought-leaders from leading organisations will meet to discuss the needs of Irish industry with regards to developing a pipeline of highly-trained graduates with industry-relevant skills in statistics, applied mathematics, and data science. In the first open industry breakfast meeting held at UCD on June 26th, representatives from leading private sector, semi-state and state bodies met with the consortium to outline their common and different needs from the talent pipeline of both technical and transversal skills to inform the applied mathematics, statistics and data science research programme of the CRT. The second such event will take place at the University of Limerick (The Pavilion) at 8am, Thursday 19th of July. Interested companies are invited to register here
The consortium already has strong expertise of young researchers developing cutting edge data science techniques to solve real-world problems, PhD student Kevin Brosnan was awarded the Inaugural Data Science Student of the Year Award at the 2016 DatSci Awards and the MACSI group in UL won consecutive Knowledge Transfer Ireland Consultancy Impact Awards in 2017 and 2018.
In the 2017 winning project Rusal Aughinish Alumina (AAL) collaborated with MACSI UL to develop bespoke systems for them. Limerick-based AAL wanted to ensure that the quality of their extracted products would not be affected in the event of a loss of power at their plants. The process could not be solved using standard approaches so the researchers developed mathematical and statistical models for process understanding that combine first principles simulation and data driven stochastic dynamics. This project resulted in a staggering 200pc increase in the accuracy of prediction of product quality, enhancing the overall efficiency and decision-making of the plant. The algorithms developed have been implemented by the company and are in daily use. The judges stated that they were particularly won over by “the very quantifiable and tangible impact this project had on local manufacturing employment and the potential it has for further use across additional industries.”
For the Data Science Student of the Year Award in 2016, Kevin Brosnan, developed mathematical and statistical modelling techniques that were integrated into Xtract 360’s car crash monitoring software. The model detects impacts using GPS and accelerometer data recorded prior to and during an accident and identifies the time and force of an impact, the physical point of impact on the vehicle and provides an estimation of the trajectory taken by the vehicle and aspects of the driving itself. The company now aims to further scale business development across Europe and the US, armed with a robust, production ready model for the motor claims industry. Xtract 360 has since gone on to win the DIAmond Award for this product at the Digital Insurance Agenda, the world’s largest gathering of insurtech and insurance innovations
The vision for industry involvement in the Centre for Research Training in the Foundation of Data Science for Industry and Enterprise includes
- Industry partners having the opportunity to train existing staff
- Industry giving strong input into the design of the students’ training
- Industry partners having first call opportunity to:
- Offer job opportunities to the 120 PhD students at the end of their course
- Participate in research that delivers advancements to current company capabilities
- Offer training placements as part of the programme, including company-specific projects
The National agency for the promotion of workforce learning in Ireland, Skillnet Ireland, are the coordinating industry partner for the Foundation of Data Science for Industry Alliance. For more information contact ICT Ireland SkillnetGerry Doyle Network Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org or come along to the Industry Breakfast meeting at the University of Limerick (The Pavilion) at 8am, Thursday 19th of July.