Diego Klabjan Receives IBM Award Inspired by Jeopardy-Winning "Watson"

Award supports creation of a new big data course in Master of Science in Analytics program

A McCormick School of Engineering professor has received an IBM 2012 Watson Solutions Faculty Award to implement a course based on a new class of analytical systems — the likes of which created Watson, the artificial intelligence computer that clinched a victory on Jeopardy! in 2011.

Diego Klabjan, director of McCormick’s Master of Science in Analytics (MSiA) program and professor of industrial engineering and management sciences, is one of 10 university professors from across the country to receive the grant, IBM announced.

Diego KlabjanThe Watson faculty awards are designed to expand and strengthen students’ understanding of cognitive systems like Watson, including big data and analytics, in order to meet the growing demand for highly skilled analytics workers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 24 percent increase in demand for professionals with management analysis skills over the next eight years.

At Northwestern, the award will support a new course in the MSiA program that focuses on big data analytics. The course will be based on the open-source software framework Hadoop and specifically devoted to Watson.

With its victory on Jeopardy!, Watson helped ushered in a new era of cognitive computing systems that can answer questions and then learn and become more accurate over time. Cognitive computing systems have the ability to arrive at optimal decisions by processing information in ways that mimic the human brain, and to understand natural language and its nuances.

By culling through vast amounts of big data, this new class of analytical systems could help transform business decision-making by providing specific recommendations and actionable insights to complex issues, from healthcare to financial services.