The term ‘Data Science’ was first coined by Google, and like Google, Data Science has taken off! Corporations are overwhelmed by a firehose of data that they don't have the capability to sort, manage or interpret. They are faced with a critical shortage of Data Scientists who can synthesize huge amounts of information from multiple sources, derive new insights, convert data into actionable information, and articulate their findings.

With its long history of research in data management, statistics, and business analytics, WPI is one of a handful of universities ready to prepare graduates for the challenges of this rapidly expanding field. The program brings together a trifecta faculty mentors from computer science, mathematics, and business. Combined with our community of student scholars from all over the world, we have a team of visionary leaders and researchers prepared to contribute important insights that will change the way we live, how we work, and our interaction with the world around us.

Data Science and AI receive U.S. Department of Education GAANN grant to support six Ph.D. students


The Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need program is for U.S. citizens pursuing a Ph.D. in fields deemed to be areas of national need. In this case, that need is artificial intelligence. With an anticipated shortfall in artificial intelligence professionals, the U.S. Department of Education has awarded $895,000 to Worcester Polytechnic Institute to provide six fellowships to graduate students.

The program, Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN), is for U.S. citizens pursuing a Ph.D. in fields deemed to be areas of national need. In this case, that need is artificial intelligence. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, seven of the top 10 STEM occupations with the highest number of jobs are computer related. From 2014 to 2024, employment in those jobs is expected to increase by nearly 13 percent and grow by nearly 500,000.

About 2,000 Ph.D. students graduated with a computer science degree last year, but many of those pursue lucrative industry jobs or leave the country, leaving behind a shortage of talent, according to the Taulbee Survey done by industry group Computing Research Association. Only one third of those graduates stay in the country to work as educators, the survey noted.

Elke Rundensteiner, the GAANN program director and professor of computer science and the founding director of WPI's Data Science program, said computer science and artificial intelligence have transformed all aspects of work and life.

"To help the nation remain globally competitive, WPI will mentor the future generation of computer science professors and professional leaders who will, in turn, drive artificial intelligence innovations, as well as train much needed computer professionals in these key areas," she said in a press release. GAANN fellows will be trained in practical aspects of teaching the field. Along with encouraging the fellows to present their research at conferences and in reputable scientific journals, they'll be connected with colleagues in academic, industry and government settings.

GAANN fellows will have the opportunity to participate in ongoing artificial intelligence research at WPI with  Elke Rundensteiner and Neil Heffernan, professors of computer science and the director of WPI's Data Science Ph.D. program. 

Together, the two oversee more than $5 million in funding for artificial intelligence research.

"AI is an exciting area that is broadly applicable in critical areas of innovation," Heffernan said.


Prof. Andy Trapp Wins NSF Grant to Help Fight Human Trafficking

Trapp and Konrad
Renata Konrad and Andrew Trapp

   The National Science Foundation Research at WPI

   Aimed at Disrupting Human Trafficking Networks

                   Researchers in the Robert A. Foisie Business School uses data analytics and operations research
to uncover the illicit supply chains that support traffickers.

October 2, 2018

With a one-year, $145,000 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), researchers in the Foisie Business School at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will explore how analytical tools commonly used in industry can be employed to attack human trafficking networks worldwide by ferreting out the supply chains that sustain them. The grant is one of nine early concept awards recently announced by the NSF as part of a concerted effort to detect, disable, and disrupt illicit supply networks.

“Human trafficking is a critical problem throughout the world,” said principal investigator Renata Konrad, associate professor in the Foisie Business School. “While trafficking activity is supported by illicit supply chains that are hidden from sight and not well understood, we believe we can use operations research and data analytics tools to detect these supply chains and thus help disrupt the trafficking networks.”

Worldwide, tens of millions of people are believed to be victims of human trafficking. Victims are forced into slavery for commercial sex, as beggars and child soldiers, as domestic workers such as housekeepers and nannies, or as factory workers and laborers in manufacturing, construction, mining, commercial fishing, food service, agricultural, and other industries. Human trafficking generates an estimated $150 billion annually in illegal profits and is one of the largest sources of profit for global organized crime, second only to illicit drugs.

Through the grant, titled “A Data Analytic Approach to Understanding Human Trafficking Networks,” Konrad and colleagues will also lay the foundation to develop techniques to help anti-trafficking agencies better prioritize their limited resources for the greatest impact by targeting areas most affected by traffickers.

Konrad will work with co-principal investigators Andrew Trapp, associate professor in the Foisie Business School; Kayse Lee Maass, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at Northeastern University; Meredith Dank, a research professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice; and Jeffrey Blom, vice president of justice operations at Love Justice International. The team will also include graduate students in WPI’s Data Science program.

The team will study border control and transit center interception data to identify key aspects of labor and sex trafficking networks from the perspective of traffickers and victims. They will analyze similarities and key differences with traditional supply chain networks using data analysis and operational tools, which will be developed and evaluated by a transdisciplinary team of operations research, data science, human trafficking, and law enforcement experts.

The methods developed will combine data science and social science approaches to account for regional, cultural, and population differences.

The nine EArly-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) awards recently announced by NSF will “advance scientific understanding of how such illicit supply networks function—and how to dismantle them,” according to the NSF. The awards leverage fundamental research, “taking an engineering systems-based approach made far more powerful by the integration of other scientific disciplines.” The NSF’s Engineering, Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences, and Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorates jointly supported the awards.

Media Contact

Alison Duffy
Director of Public Relations
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, Massachusetts; 508-831-6656

$2.8 Million to Help Soldiers Suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury

WPI Secures $2.8 Million to Develop a Smartphone App to Help Assess the Health of Soldiers

The project, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), aims to use “smartphone biomarkers” and machine learning to create an early warning system for soldiers and veterans who may be suffering from traumatic brain injuries and infectious diseases.

WPI Computer Science professors Emmanuel Agu, faculty director for WPI’s Healthcare Delivery Institute, and Elke Rundensteiner, director of the university’s Data Science Program, are developing the new technology. The $2.8 million award from DARPA comes through its Warfighter Analytics Using Smartphones for Health (WASH) program.

The goal of WASH is to create a mobile application that passively and continuously assesses a soldier’s health. The goal is to detect potentially severe illnesses at the earliest stage and direct soldiers toward care. The system will not replace typical medical assessments, but will augment them by detecting problems outside of scheduled clinical appointments. The app will help flag small problems before they impair the health of soldiers and before infectious diseases spread through a squadron.

 “Our team will research and develop machine learning algorithms that tap into smartphone sensors to passively collect data about behaviors that we know are related to certain health issues. This will enable continuous, real-time assessment of TBI and infectious diseases afflicting soldiers, who can then be contacted by a clinician to assess their status.”

The Department of Defense (DOD), estimates 22% of all combat casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer brain injuries. “Detecting changes in behavior patterns is critical for early identification of health concerns and unique health care needs, even before the illness fully manifests itself,” Agu said. “We can look for symptoms like slurred speech or reduced communication and social interaction. These may indicate a TBI. Coughing and fatigued movement, typical of some infectious diseases, can trigger help earlier.” 

 “By processing data captured by the smartphones of 100,000 patients, we will determine the precise health status of individual smartphone users in near real-time,” said Rundensteiner. “The technology we are creating through WASH will uncover predictive patterns in massive data sets and is bound to be transformative. The resulting smartphone sensor data set to be created through the DARPA WASH project will be one of the largest of its kind, representing a significant value and critical resource in its own right.”


Data Science's Rosemarie Day wins Intel-AI-interplanetary challenge!

Talking about the Data Science minor in campus center

ds minor on campus


Degrees & Certificates

Area of Study Bachelor Minor Certificate Master PhD

2018 Data Science Graduates




Kyumin Lee
Kyumin Lee

Kyumin Lee, Ph.D., a recent hire to the Data Science faculty, has won an NSF Career Award as well as an award from GOOGLE!

His research Topics are:
Career: Tracking, Revealing and Detecting Crowdsourced Manipulation

We are very happy to have Kyumin join the Data Science faculty.


In the News

The Worcester Business Journal reported on work by computer science professors Emmanuel Agu and Elke Rundensteiner to develop a smartphone app to help assess the health of soldiers. 

Worcester Business Journal

Data science student Rosemarie Day won Intel’s AI Interplanetary Challenge as reported by Venture Beat. She proposed a computer vision system that tapped satellite imagery to give a detailed look at how Earth is changing over time.

Venture Beat

Data Science in Research Magazine

Digital Health 


Professor Elke Rundensteiner

Professor Carolina Ruiz

Professor Diane Strong

& Other WPI Faculty

Professor Rundensteiner quoted in TechTarget

Skills and Temperament Drive Success in Cloud-based Data Science

Fearlessness, curiosity, and mastery of statistics are keys to data science success, says Elke Rundensteiner, director of WPI’s Data Science program.

STEM Degree Program

WPI’s Data Science program is a 
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-designated degree program. Its Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Code is 30.0801, indicating it has a Mathematics and Computer Science focus.

A Successful Series of Data Science GQP Projects with Our Sponsor Pfizer Corporation

In Great Company: WPI + Pfizer, Inc.

Facts & Figures


Best Career Placement

Princeton Review (2019)

Mid-Career Salary earning potential of Master's students (2016)
Top 100

Best Colleges 

U.S. News & World Report (2016)

The U.S. government has recognized the importance of STEM education by offering certain privileges to STEM degree recipients who are foreign nationals, including a 24-month extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT).  Nearly all of WPI’s graduate programs are eligible for this extension, including data science, information technology, and operations analytics and management. Learn more about the STEM OPT Hub.

Technological advances in devices, software, networking, and other technologies have given rise to digital data rich in variety, volume, velocity, and complexity.
Elke Rundensteiner
Professor, Computer Science
Director of the Data Science Graduate Programs