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Cognitive computing education to be offered by UK Universities

Two prominent UK universities have announced partnerships with IBM to offer students and staff cognitive computing education with access to IBM's Watson technology and experts.

To make best use of complex computing architectures such as cognitive computing requires both the classical skills needed by computer scientists but also an understanding of the analytics required to manage big data and algorithms capable of providing the ‘dynamic learning’ for which Watson has been praised.

IBM is no stranger to complex computing challenges, just two months ago it was introducing neurosynaptic computing and a new programming language along with it.

The development of new computing models requires specialists with a new set of skills not typically seen in classical computer science education. To combat this the University of Southampton and Imperial College London have developed a partnership with IBM so that students can develop their understanding of cognitive computing.

Imperial College London will offer new courses to provide students with opportunities for hands-on learning as they work to develop cognitive computing solutions to address business and societal challenges. The partnership extends cognitive systems activities in Imperial’s Department of Computing as well as in other College departments already involved in related interdisciplinary research.

Selected undergraduate and postgraduate students from the Department of Computing, Imperial College London will be enrolled in early 2015 in a course organised and led by Dr Alessandra Russo, the Department’s Director of Postgraduate Research.

Professor David Gann, Vice President (Development and Innovation) at Imperial College London, said: ‘As a leader in education and research in cognitive computing, Imperial College London aims to prepare industry-ready students to harness this combination of science and technology and create innovative products and services. It is crucial for our students to be able to work with the most cutting-edge systems and technologies, and we are truly excited about this partnership with IBM - which will enable this through a multidisciplinary and systematic approach. Our Department of Computing already collaborates closely with IBM in areas related to security, network management and intelligence services. This new initiative takes our strategic alliance to a new level. Students and researchers will benefit greatly from access to the latest generation of capabilities from IBM.’

The University of Southampton will collaborate with IBM Watson on interdisciplinary PhD research projects across a wide range of sectors from Marine & Maritime to Computer Science, Computational Chemistry and ground-breaking medical research.

Southampton students will also engage with Watson through a new Cognitive Computing module as part of its Curriculum Innovation programme which will initially be available to over 150 undergraduate and Master’s students across all disciplines.

Dr Russell Bentley, Assistant Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) at the University of Southampton said: ‘As a University which prides itself on being at the forefront of cutting edge technological and educational developments, the introduction of Watson into our curricular and extra-curricular activities is a natural step as we seek to transform the experience and resources available to our students and staff. In particular, Watson will be a tremendous asset to participants on our innovative Curriculum Innovation programme, which encourages students from across disciplines and subject to come together to develop new skills.’

‘The possibilities are endless thanks to IBM and Watson and we’re grateful for the opportunity to work in partnership with IBM to push back the boundaries of global education for now and for the future,’ Dr Bentley concluded.

Rashik Parmar, Partnership Executive, IBM UK and Ireland said: ‘We are entering into the era of cognitive computing which has the potential to change the way people interact with technology.  As the leader in Big Data and analytics, IBM is excited to be partnering with two of the world’s top universities to bring cognitive computing to some of their brightest minds and put Watson into the hands of our future innovators. Through these collaborations and other Watson initiatives, we hope to be able to continually play an integral role in transforming industries.’

Today's announcements between IBM and the Universities build on long established partnerships involving Computing, Business Innovation and other domains in science and technology.

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