RU IT professor named IBM faculty award winner

Big data – or the 2.5 quintillion bytes of information generated daily from sensors, RFID networks, mobile devices and social media – could be a vast treasure trove yielding insights and creating jobs.

Radford University's Jeff Pittges, associate professor of information technology, has been named one of 14 international winners of IBM's 2013 Big Data and Analytics Faculty Awards. He will develop curricula and research mixing business and technical skills to help unlock the massive resource of information that comes with daily digital usage and prepare professionals to do it with the $10,000 award, his second in two years.

The IBM Faculty Awards support basic research, curriculum innovation and educational assistance in focus areas that are fundamental to innovation in the 21st Century. The award's areas of particular focus include a smarter planet and cities; healthcare and personalized education; mobile first and social technologies; big data and business analytics; cyber security and cloud computing.

He is joined as an IBM Faculty Award winner by colleagues from Notre Dame, Syracuse, Universiteit Leiden in the Netherlands, the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico; Moscow's Higher School of Economics, Prague's Czech Technical University and Oxford University's Saïd Business School.

Pittges' award will enable him to extend the Database Instructional Games (DIG) online learning environment to include InfoSphere BigInsights for text analysis of customer feedback.

"It is valuable to be part of IBM's academic initiative as we can further develop labs for students that immerse them in scenarios that reinforce principles and concepts from the classroom while familiarizing them with top-of-the line technology," he said. "This is providing our students better knowledge and practice in business intelligence."

One of the scenarios with which Pittges' student work features developing the infrastructure for a data warehouse with dashboards for a simulated retail grocery store that grows from corner market to regional chain.  The students get hands-on experience by building and running the warehouse, monitoring and measuring the flow of information and taking actions like managing inventory and setting prices. Pittges adds that the scenario will soon include interpreting customer Twitter responses, or sentiment analysis, as a way to assess and improve their customers' experience.

"Dr. Pittges' award again puts RU in the conversation with universities from around the world that are at the forefront in developing curriculums in big data and analytics," said Orion Rogers, dean of the College of Science and Technology. "Thanks to IBM and Dr. Pittges, we are pleased to share the latest advances in analytics technology, curriculum materials and access to a wide spectrum of software solutions with our students."

Aug 27, 2013
Don Bowman
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