McCormick

Fall 2012 Magazine

The Data Age

Greetings From McCormick

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Dean Julio M. Ottino

We live in what many are calling the data age, and connectedness rules the world. Processing power and data storage are virtually free; a typical smartphone has computing power that puts a 1970s-era mainframe to shame. This ubiquitous computing power enables devices to gather data while we walk, while we shop, and while we drive. And, increasingly, devices can communicate with each other, forming what some have called the “Internet of things.”

Yet having access to more data does not nec­essarily translate into more knowledge. We find ourselves in need of new approaches to help us find the insights and answers that are hidden in the flood of data.

At the very core, there are two ways of dealing with any challenge: rationality and intuition. As Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.” But the rational mind needs tools and crutches to help understand and evaluate situa­tions, and the intuitive mind is honed by years of problem solving. Often we have neither the tools nor the experience to make sense of the unprecedented complexity and relentless change we face.

Our faculty are working on new methods, such as data mining techniques and analytics, that will allow us to bridge the rational and intuitive minds. In this issue you will read about ongoing research that seeks to make use of the power of data and the steps we are taking to educate tomorrow’s leaders through our new Master of Science in Analytics program.

We also feature collaborations with the Rehab­ilitation Institute of Chicago, which was again voted the top rehabilitation hospital in America by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to partnering with McCormick on a multitude of collaborative research initiatives and faculty appointments, RIC provides design projects that allow our students to serve a real need in the marketplace.

In this issue we introduce the new Willens Engineering Life Sciences Wing, a six-story, 50,000-square-foot addition for the life and bio­medical sciences. Made possible by a significant gift from Ronald and JoAnne Willens, the wing offers cutting-edge facilities—including offices, labs, and common space—in a modern design that integrates seam­­lessly with the original façade of the Technological Institute. The Willens Wing will be the permanent home for the Integrated Molecular Structure Education and Research Center, as well as many laboratories and office spaces for the nanotech­nology, biomedical engineering, and mechanical engineering faculty.

I hope you will take some time to explore this magazine and learn more about how we think and where we are going.

As always, I welcome your feedback.

Julio M. Ottino, Dean | November 2012

Having access to more
data does not nec­essarily translate into more knowledge. We find ourselves in need of new approaches to help us find the insights and answers that are hidden in the flood of data.... Our faculty are working on new methods, such as data mining techniques and analytics, that will allow us to bridge the rational and intuitive minds.