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New center for deep learning connects UO graduate students with research opportunities



The University of Oregon launched the Center for Big Learning on campus, giving UO access to a broad network across the country of computer science research institutions and increasing research opportunities for graduate students at UO.

The Center for Big Learning is located on the third floor of Deschutes Hall and will create “state-of-the-art” technologies and procedures to establish the university as a leader in computer science research through “deep learning,” according to its website.  

The center opened after a $175,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, and belongs to a program called the Industry Cooperative Research Center, or ICRC.

The grant covers the expenses necessary to run the center as well as scholarships for graduate students to work at the center, according to Dejing Dou, professor of computer science and director of the center.

Dou said the fact that UO has access to the Talapas computer, which can process mass amounts of data faster than a normal computer, made UO more competitive for the NSF grant.

The ICRC is a network of three other universities across the country: the University of Florida, the University of Missouri and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

According to Dou, the universities within the network share data, information and resources with each other to increase their research capabilities.

The network also connects researchers across the country through weekly Skype meetings and biannual in-person meetings. UO will host the ICRC meeting in fall 2019.

The Center for Big Learning takes big steps in data research

The center works with companies who pay a $50,000 a year membership to be a part of the NSF network and become industry partners. The university will work with the industry partners and conduct research on its data.

UO has already signed on Wells Fargo, IBM Research and Data Logic and plans on partnering with five other companies by the end of the month.

“It’s exciting because we have seen the overwhelming interest from industry partners,” Dou said.

Dou will lead a research team of around 10 graduate students who will sign on to different research projects for each industry partner.

According to Amnay Amimeur, a third-year Ph.D. computer science student who works at the center for big learning, the research projects will be personalized to fit the company’s issues with the researcher’s goal.

For example, Wells Fargo signed on to be a part of the center to gain insights on fraud risk from data research, according to Amimeur.

The center and Wells Fargo will then match a student to the project based on common goals.

These research projects will start in the summer, after a meeting between all universities in Florida later this month.

Dou said this opportunity for graduate students will help them understand the industry better than an internship would.

“Once a student finishes their education and training in the center, they are ready to do the full-time job, “ Dou said.

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Hannah Kanik

Hannah Kanik

Hannah Kanik is a News Reporter. She is a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Political Science and loves coffee and classic movies.