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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Do you grapple with Big Data?

Business managers, data analytics specialists, academic researchers, data center administrators and anyone else challenged with big data can participate in a series of short courses on data issues in June.

Sponsored by the National Consortium for Data Science (NCDS), the Odum Institute for Social Science Research at UNC Chapel Hill, and the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), Data Matters will be held June 23-27 at the Friday Center for Continuing Education in Chapel Hill.

The series will feature two-day courses on Monday and Tuesday and Thursday and Friday, and one-day courses on Wednesday. Registration and course information is available at online.

Topics for the courses cover a wide range of big data issues and include an introduction to data science, strategies for managing big data, social network analysis, predictive analysis, using large-scale data networks, data mining and machine learning, data visualization, and using data tools such as SAS and Hadoop.

Instructors will include experts from SAS, Cisco, Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, RENCI, Saffron Technologies, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Pennsylvania State University.

“The explosion of digital data means that people in a wide range of fields—from finance to health care to government agencies—need to understand how to use and manage large diverse data sets,” said Tom Carsey, director of the Odum Institute and one of the instructors for the short course series. “Our goal is to reach not only academic researchers who collect and use big data, but also people in the business sector who are drowning in data and need everything from basic data literacy to skills in specific data platforms.”

The short course series will take place about one year after the founding of the NCDS, an organization launched at RENCI and UNC as a way to strategically address the challenges faced by businesses and researchers who must manage and make sense of massive amounts of digital data.

The NCDS launched in April 2013, with a conference in Chapel Hill that addressed the specific challenges involved in using genomic data to improve disease diagnoses, treatments, and health care delivery.

A year later, the consortium includes wide representation from UNC system campuses, from world-class data-focused companies such as SAS, and from research organizations such as RTI and MCNC. In addition, a number of industry leaders and government agencies have supported the consortium’s efforts and participated in events including Cisco, IBM, GE, the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“A lot of groups are talking about big data and lots of partnerships have formed across the country,” said RENCI Director Stan Ahalt, who serves as the chair of the NCDS Steering Committee.

“What makes us different is that we provide opportunities for industry leaders and data science researchers in academia, government and nonprofits to come together and discuss the issues from a variety of perspectives,” he continued. “We think that interaction among experts in all sectors will lead to best practices in analyzing, managing and gleaning knowledge from data.”

NCDS leaders also see interaction between academics and business leaders as way to address an impending problem in the IT industry: a shortage of data scientists to fill an exploding number of data-related jobs.

Earlier this month, the NCDS and UNC Career Services hosted a Data Science Careers Meetup and Panel Discussion, where industry panelists talked about employment needs and students peppered them with questions and stuck around for hours for the chance to talk one-on-one with executives from Cisco, IBM, RTI, and SAS.

That event, which brought an overflow crowd of students to UNC’s Career Services facilities, is the first of many that looks to help establish the NCDS as a conduit between talented data science students and prospective employers.