Milwaukee's Data Science Institute Could Impact Economy & Everyday Lives

Oct 1, 2018

Plans for a multimillion-dollar Data Science Institute in Milwaukee are moving forward. The update on the project was announced at a forum held in Wauwatosa by the Tech Council Innovation Network. Originally announced in June, the institute involves a collaboration between Northwestern Mutual, UW-Milwaukee and Marquette University. 

Data scientists use mathematical calculations and other tools to get more information out of large sets of raw data. According to the partners in the institute, companies in many industries rely on the analysis to remain competitive.

Northwestern Mutual Analytics Director Dave Pahl says greater use of data science could allow his firm to stop requiring some of the more invasive tests for people applying for insurance coverage. "You know, giving blood, urine samples and so forth. So, we're using data and analytics in some cases to eliminate those requirements to make it easier and generate more access to financial protection products for the average consumer, " Pahl said.

UWM Chancellor Mark Mone says analysis of large quantities of data can help solve problems in a wide range of areas, including business, criminal justice and health care. "How does this transform you? You know, I was at the hospital yesterday ... and the whole issue of data, and how everything is so much more connected through companies like EPIC and others, that's something you may not see. But all of a sudden, the doctor has answers they wouldn't have had before because of the connectivity, " Mone said.

Mone says the collaboration will help establish the region as one that's "rich in technological and analytical expertise" — and will promote it as a place "that attracts and retains technology firms and talent."

Marquette President Mike Lovell adds that the project includes plans to reach out to grade schools and high schools, perhaps prompting younger people to shift career plans. "Students today that are not looking at data science as part of their future, they are going to have opportunities through the outreach efforts and other things we're doing, to expose them to, and maybe give them a career path, to jobs in the future," Lovell said.

Northwestern Mutual hopes to open the institute in a downtown Milwaukee facility called Cream City Labs by January, with more Data Science classes by next fall.

Support is provided by Dr. Lawrence and Mrs. Hannah Goodman for Innovation reporting.

Do you have a question about innovation in Wisconsin that you'd like WUWM's Chuck Quirmbach to explore? Submit it below.