Campus News

New UW-Madison school highlights computing and data

Information School, one of the three departments collaborated to form the School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences, is housed in Helen C. White.

Image By: Kalli Anderson

UW-Madison released the School of Computer, Data & Information in the College of Letters & Science Thursday. The School of CDIS will collaborate with industries to enhance the development in computing, data and information literacy. 

“As technology becomes more pervasive in our world on all levels — from smart devices to algorithms shaping the global flow of information and commerce — it is critical that our university continue to lead in this field," said UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, according to a press release.

Blank said the establishment of the School of CDIS plays a constructive role in the computing revolution, which will enrich Wisconsin’s students in the digital field. 

The vision for the School of CDIS was formed in a group effort between the Department of Computer Sciences, the Department of Statistics and the Information School.

Computer Sciences sprung up in recent years, becoming one of UW-Madison’s most popular undergraduate majors — nearly 2000 undergraduate students studied Computer Sciences, Statistics and the iSchool in the spring of 2019. 

The sky-rocketing enrollment rate shows that relevant businesses are burgeoning, but also prompt for future evolutions.

For decades, computer scientists and experts have shed light on developing ever-better hardware and software, expanding data collection mechanisms and increasing the use of data science in all fields of study.

On the other hand, the new school will also address challenges including issues of privacy and ethics that were created by the application of big data. 

According to the press release, the CDIS will emphasize the cross-majors effort encompassing psychology, journalism and mass communications. 

Tom Erickson, a UW-Madison alumnus and tech entrepreneur, is the founding director of CDIS, while Kristin Eschenfelder, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and former director of the iSchool, is CDIS’ associate director.

"Every university has had to decide how to respond to the growth in these fields and growing demand from researchers and students excited about the possibilities it presents," said Interim Dean of Letters & Science Eric Wilcots.

Wilcots stressed the wide use of computer science and its applications to various industries. 

"The needs of disparate fields like astronomy and history can drive advances in computer, data and information sciences,” Wilcots said. "Our core principle is that these disciplines are inseparable from the natural and social sciences and humanities."

Wilcots also called this university partnership “unique” in the U.S., finding that it puts the three together in a “public land grant institution.” "We're taking three very strong programs and putting them together in a university that also has unmatched breadth and opportunities for collaboration in medicine, engineering, life sciences, nursing, education and more," Erickson said.

The School of CDIS will also aid the state by boosting the strengths of startups within the state, from partnerships with the government to various industries.

"We have a chance to create a strong ecosystem of innovation, to create jobs and bring significant recognition to Wisconsin as a place where entrepreneurs thrive," Erickson said.

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