The third annual Industry Showcase of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) opened with a Welcome & Kick Off video in which ICS Dean Marios Papaefthymiou presented statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Noting that the digital economy is expected to grow at a rate of 13% over the next decade, resulting in the need to fill roughly 150,000 new jobs each year, Papaefthymiou spoke of how ICS is addressing this growing demand. “We’re one of the largest schools of computing in the nation,” he said. “This is a big place with a lot of students, a lot of bright students.” Last June, ICS graduated 1,250 students, which amounts to 3% of the annual production of new computing degrees in the U.S.
The unique structure of ICS as a standalone school makes it the largest academic computer science program on the West Coast. “The school is a candy store!” stressed Dean Marios. ICS currently offers seven undergraduate, 10 master’s and six doctoral programs. It has grown 300% in the last five years, and its 120 research and teaching faculty in the three ICS departments — Computer Science, Informatics and Statistics — are reshaping all aspects of computing, from education and core technologies to ethical and socially responsible applications.
The ICS Industry Showcase presented an opportunity for the 21 participating companies to foster research collaborations and recruit students in areas such as machine learning, cybersecurity, software engineering, human-computer interaction, health informatics and cloud computing. “This is an important time for companies, because they’re looking to fill summer internships,” says Jason King, senior associate director of corporate relations in ICS. “The showcase helps companies connect with qualified, interested students.”
It also helps foster new partnerships between academia and industry, which is why the virtual two-day event opened with a faculty panel discussion. “This year, our panel focused on a unique topic — the future of data analytics,” says King, “and there was great synergy in the discussion.”
“With the ever-increasing reliance that today’s world has on data, this was an opportunity for the attendees to get a glimpse of the depth and breadth of ICS’s research on data analysis,” says Carey. “The panelists also engaged in Q&A discussions that touched on some of ICS’s more visible outbound (public) activities, its recently funded initiatives, as well as information for student attendees on how they can get involved in ICS research efforts.”
The discussion began with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Stephan Mandt covering probabilistic deep learning for data analysis. He examined when it should be used and explored promising application areas.
Assistant Professor of Computer Science Jing Zhang then talked about bioinformatics — a big data science for biology and medicine — and how we have entered the era of predictive and personalized medicine. This has shifted the focus from data sequencing to data analysis for disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Statistics Professor Vladimir Minin covered dynamic systems in the biological sciences. One area he discussed was infectious disease analytics and his work with the Orange County Health Care Agency this past year.
Finally, Assistant Professor of Informatics Roderic Crooks turned to data analytics in education and criminal justice, talking about his research into datafication and community activism. His work centers the experience of racialized and minority communities with respect to data intensive computation.
The Q&A that followed touched on a variety of topics, including anomaly detection, automation and adversarial attacks, the future of AI in medicine, risk assessment in public health, cultural expectations about data, and the role of data science in addressing climate change. Students and companies are invited to collaborate with ICS faculty on research in these and other areas.
Corporate Recruitment Information Sessions
Following the panel discussion, 700 participants attended a day and a half of corporate recruitment information sessions hosted by 21 companies, including Google, Facebook, Northrop Grumman, SAP, Johnson & Johnson, and Taco Bell. “We had a solid list of companies, and more want to get involved,” says King. “Now that we’re in our third year and building on previous success, more companies want a seat at the table for this tailored and unique opportunity to connect with ICS students.”
One company that has been involved all three years is Taco Bell. “We look forward to the ICS Industry Showcase every year. This event allows us the opportunity to engage with the next generation of top talent in technology,” says technical recruiter India Forster. “During Taco Bell’s presentation, our leaders share their insights into the bold, innovative future of Taco Bell technology, which includes building a pipeline of talent for our Summer Internship experience with goals of conversion to full-time at the end of the program.”
Students similarly want to connect with the companies. Senior computer science major Mitchell Wu appreciates ICS hosting this type of event. “The school is making an active effort to further support the students, cognizant of people’s goals outside of academia,” says Wu, who is co-president of IEEE UCI and hopes to work in hardware or embedded systems after graduation. He attended sessions hosted by DirectTV, Facebook and Qualcomm. “It’s like touring for colleges, when you’re looking at the campus and its culture.” As much as Wu appreciated this year’s virtual event, when recalling the inaugural showcase of 2019, he admits there’s no comparison to the in-person version. “I’m looking forward to seeing students enjoy [the showcase] in its full glory in years to come.”
That is the plan. “We look forward to seeing everyone next year, hopefully back in person,” says King, “for the 4th Annual ICS Industry Showcase.”
— Shani Murray