Program Activities

Each REU participant will be closely mentored by a CS&E faculty member while contributing to active research related to computational methods for big data. Students will also be supported in this effort through technical training related both to software development and computational methods. A major focus of REU is to provide professional development including scientific writing and communication, career planning, and ethics in science. All REU participants will be involved in professional development activities. A general description of each is listed below.

Big Data Technical Training

Through on-line tutorials and in-lab instructional sessions, participants will gain a basic understanding and skill-set for managing, analyzing, and visualizing big data. This will get students quickly integrated into faculty research projects. These skills will be reinforced and enhanced through research immersion. Tentatively, the topics will cover (1) challenges related to data storage and access, (2) data mining and pattern classification techniques, and (3) graphics and data visualization. Each of the three 2-hour tutorials will consist of a brief lecture on the theoretical aspects, an interactive demonstration of its application, and open lab time for pairs of students to apply methods to real datasets.

Big Data Colloquium Series

Students will attend 5-7 colloquia in which CS&E faculty and their collaborators in transdisciplinary big data research will discuss the questions they are addressing, how they are being addressed, and the implications of their success. Most importantly, they will highlight the necessity of collaboration across disciplines that synergistically form and inform each other to address the grand challenges with significant societal impact. Students can learn more about the research and the faculty member during a group lunch following each colloquium.

Self-paced online technical training

Research in big data requires general software development and programming skills including object oriented programming and data structures, memory management, source control, test-driven development, and debugging techniques. Students will have access to tutorials on these essential technical skills. Self-paced, online tutorials accommodate the wide range of background of the participants.

Communicating Science Workshop series

Successful research requires an articulation of ideas, methods, and findings in both written and verbal form. It is essential for students to understand the importance of good communication skills and to possess those skills. Towards this, students will participate in 4 workshops that will progress them from learning how others communicate science to being able to communicate their research efforts and findings. As part of this workshop, students will develop a web page and poster for presenting their work at the end of the program.

Career Savvy workshop

The summer program activities prepare students for academic and professional success in the sciences, and this workshop will help students leverage that experience to establish and achieve their goals. Early in the program, students will attend a Career Savvy workshop to help them identify potential career paths and establish personal goals. It will also provide advice on the application process for graduate school, what experience industry most values, and the making of a good resume or curriculum vitae. At the end of the program, each student will have meet with her or his mentor to establish a detailed plan that lays out a path to long-term professional goals. When appropriate, students will be encouraged to consider that next level of achievement in their academic trajectory.