Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has secured a complete installation of the IBM Watson system through an IBM grant program.
RPI faculty, researchers, and students will get an opportunity to work hands-on with the latest iteration of the cognitive computing system that famously bested human champions at Jeopardy! in 2011.
"The notion here is that we want to take the Watson system and get it into the university academic world," said Michael Henesey, a VP of Business Development who works with IBM Research. "We think this is going to produce great things."
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RPI was chosen partly because of its strength in cognitive computing research and because computer scientists there were involved in some of the original research projects that led to the creation of Watson. In addition, RPI has long provided talent to IBM, which is headquartered in New York State and has one of its principle research centers there. This is the latest in a series of IBM partnerships with universities aimed at training data scientists.
"We'll hopefully generate strong new professionals out of it," Henesey said. That's the focus of IBM's broader efforts involving more than 200 educational institutions globally in big data and analytics research and education, he said. "We want skills to flow and become available to us. Our customers are also telling us this is a top concern of theirs because of the vast amount of information they're coming into contact with from social media and sensor data. We're seeing that 90% of the world's data was created in the last two years -- that's a fun statistic -- so we know it's growing, but the trick is how do we work with it."