AEDC, School Partners Win $20M Grant For Data Analytics Project

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Science and Technology, along with the nine colleges and universities it’s partnered with, recently won a $20 million grant to be awarded over five years.

The state will match it with an additional $4 million.

The grant is from the National Science Foundation Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NSF EPSCoR) Track-1 program. 

The project it will fund is titled “Data Analytics that are Robust and Trusted.” Starting July 1, researchers will investigate key aspects of three barriers to big data (management, security/privacy, and model interpretability) and develop solutions to address them. The project ends June 30, 2025.

The researchers will be from Arkansas State University, Philander Smith College, Southern Arkansas University, Shorter College, the University of Arkansas, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the University of Central Arkansas.

“This award continues to validate the strides that Arkansas is making as the state transitions from a primarily agricultural economy to a more diverse, data-driven economy,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson in a news release. “Computer science education has been a priority in my administration from day one because it affects every Arkansan, both producers and consumers. I’m proud of the many entities that are coming together to make this grant possible, and I can’t wait to see how the results of their research impact our economic bottom line.”

This project will have the largest footprint of any EPSCoR project in the state, and AEDC will administer the grant funds. 

Commerce Secretary Mike Preston said in the release, “Arkansas has several pockets of computer science excellence. What sets this project apart is that DART brings together some of the best talent at colleges throughout the state in an effort to leverage our strengths in the science and technology field and improve the quality and quantity of the state’s skilled workers in the industry.”

NSF EPSCoR program manager Jeanne Small added, “The project also contributes to one of the ‘10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments’: Harnessing The Data Revolution. The project aims to develop an innovative educational pathway to train the next generation of data scientists, and it has the potential to benefit the entire nation through advances in data analytics, big data management, and machine learning.”