TD gift addresses challenges – one data point at a time

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Solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems lie hidden within an increasingly complex realm of numbers and data points. And a newly announced $1-million investment by TD Bank Group will enable researchers with the Faculty of Science to explore that realm.

The gift in data analytics teaching and research will expand Western’s strength in a growing disciplinary hot spot – mining value from important and vast volumes of information.

“This is a substantial investment from an outstanding, long-term philanthropic partner,” Western President Amit Chakma said Monday. “New technologies are churning out massive amounts of data and TD’s generosity demonstrates their confidence that Western’s faculty and students will translate that data into solving highly complex issues facing Canada and the world.”

Real-world applications are as diverse as the data: analyzing ecosystem degradation; studying and reducing emergency room wait times; predicting vulnerabilities in financial systems; and making smart electricity grids even smarter.

Insights drawn from this research can prevent bank fraud, plan for and mitigate damage from forest fires and even improve affordable housing.

Western has seen rapid growth in the discipline recently: its Master of Data analytics program launched in September 2017, through the School of Mathematical and Statistical Science as well as the Department of Computer Science in the Faculty of Science. An undergraduate program in Data Science will begin in September, 2018.

The TD Bank Group gift will enable Western to expand its capabilities by:

  • Establishing a new physical space on campus – the TD Analytics Hub in the North Campus Building — where collaborative research and problem-solving will take place;
  • Creating the TD Professorship in Data Analytics – a position that will shape the Master of Data Analytics and Data Science program to prepare students for industry needs in data research;
  • Creating four annual TD Women in Data Analytics Bursaries, designed to encourage greater gender equity and provide meaningful financial support to women entering this discipline; and
  • Supporting a year-end competition, judged by industry experts, for Master of Data Analytics students to present key learnings from their internships.

“Data and analytics have the power to help us create truly personalized experiences and solutions for our customers,” said Christian Nelissen, Senior Vice-President, Enterprise Data and Analytics, TD Bank Group. “As we continue to implement our data and analytics strategy, we are creating diverse teams with new perspectives that will help us think differently about how we can enrich our customers’ lives and help them succeed.

“Partnerships with leading educational institutions like Western University are playing a key role in developing the talent that will continue to move Canada’s financial industry forward. As a key innovation hub in Southwestern Ontario, we support Western’s focus on diversity and applaud the importance they are placing on creating new opportunities, specifically for women, to excel in the fields of data science and analytics.”

Harnessing the potential of data and sculpting it into solutions that address societal challenges and drive its evolution is the mandate of 21st-Century experts in data analytics, said Pauline Barmby, Acting Science Dean.

“TD Bank Group’s gift positions the school to grow its expertise in this important field of study,” she said. “They are enabling students and faculty the opportunity to become leaders in data translation. Their investment to attract female students demonstrates their belief in employing the best minds to find solutions in an increasingly complex world.”