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The Data Science Era has emerged. Boston University is prepared for it.

Boston University is taking large steps forward in the field of data science. Eric Kolaczyk is helping to lead the way. 

By Isaac Schorr

Photo by Cydney Scott.

With the groundbreaking of the new nineteen-story Data Sciences Center at 665 Commonwealth Avenue on December 5th, 2019, Boston University made its largest step forward into the data science industry. The building, which will house the Mathematics and Statistics Department, will also house the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering.

The Mathematics and Statistics Department’s own Eric Kolaczyk started his appointment as the director of the Hariri Institute on January 15th, 2020. He has big plans going forward for the institute and what it could mean for interdisciplinary collaboration for the university’s faculty.  “Data science touches everybody,” says Kolaczyk. The new building, built with collaboration in mind,  will help to propel Boston University to national visibility in the field of data science. It is also a monument to BU’s commitment.

“There’s something about physical presence that makes things that are real even more real.”, said Kolaczyk, noting the impact that the building will have on the perception of Boston University’s initiative. “So, simply having that building is going to be tremendous. At the same time, given the investment that’s necessary to build such a building, just even having broken ground sends a tremendous statement as to the seriousness and level of investment that BU is prepared to make in computing and data sciences.”

Data science is one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation right now, and universities are doing their best to keep up with the rapidly expanding demand for workers who can go into the field and interpret the massive amounts of data created by today’s interconnected world. Boston University is answering the challenge with the Hariri Institute, the newly emerged faculty for computing and data sciences, the Data Sciences building, and the most important raw resource: people, like Kolaczyk, who are making it happen. He believes that these different aspects of the university’s plan put Boston University “poised right at the head of the pack”.

 “My mandate is to help bring the institute as the research-centric portion of BU’s computing and data sciences presence to national visibility.” Kolaczyk sees his new role as both a way to make a difference and “facilitate and incubate and enhance research interactions.” When asked about what future ties he sees between the Hariri Institute and the Mathematics and Statistics Department, Kolaczyk went on to say that “the opportunity for interactions is largely a function of the creativity of the faculty. Hariri is set up to interface with and enable groups from all across campus … part of the mission will be to reach out and work with various domain areas throughout campus and find creative ways for them to interact.”

The Data Sciences Building will be a place for research, collaboration, conversation, and most importantly, for people to step through the gateway to the data science era.

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