University of Maryland, Capital One Partner to Drive Innovation, Fueling Talent Pipeline in Data and Machine Learning

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University of Maryland, Capital One Partner to Drive Innovation, Fueling Talent Pipeline in Data and Machine Learning

The University of Maryland and Capital One today announced a partnership aimed at developing a talented pipeline of students to join the workforce in areas of key national need, such as machine learning, data analytics and cybersecurity.

A cornerstone of the new partnership will be the launch of an innovation lab in the university’s Discovery District. Situated along Baltimore Avenue, the lab will give UMD students the opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom—in topics like data science, technology and automation—to real-world problems and experiences.

Capital One has also invested $3 million through an endowment gift to help advance machine learning leadership at the university. The gift’s impact includes $2.1 million used to endow a faculty chair in the Department of Computer Science, and $900,000 to help support research and educational initiatives in machine learning, data analytics and cybersecurity. In addition, the university will collaborate with Capital One to develop academic courses offered through its First-Year Innovation & Research Experience (FIRE) program. 

“The opportunities that this partnership will bring to UMD will have a tremendous impact on our students’ ability to meet urgent workforce needs,” said UMD Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin. “This partnership will not only help attract and retain top faculty and students, but will also propel UMD to national prominence and excellence in these critically important fields.

“We are thrilled to extend our long-standing partnership with the University of Maryland to this important initiative, which will further position the University as one of the leading academic institutions and talent hubs for machine learning, data analytics, and cyber security not only in the region, but in the nation,” said Adam Wenchel, vice president of AI and data innovation, Capital One. “At Capital One, we are steadfast in our belief that machine learning and data analytics can greatly enhance our customers’ experience, and we are proud to support the next generation of technology innovators from UMD that will continue to harness these opportunities more broadly.”

“Thanks to Capital One and Adam Wenchel, the Computer Science Department will be able to add more outstanding faculty to our machine learning and cyber security groups," said Larry Davis, professor and interim Chair, Department of Computer Science. "This partnership will provide more of our 3200 undergraduates and 250 graduate students opportunities to take specialized classes and work with machine learning and cyber security experts who will make major contributions to the field.” 

In August, the Maryland Department of Commerce, through the state’s Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative, provided the University of Maryland with $2.1 million in matching funds for its Capital One Chair in Machine Learning and Computer Science. These funds will endow an additional two professorships in the field, and will help elevate research, education and entrepreneurship activities. 

“Higher education institutions are significant economic drivers for the entire state of Maryland," said Commerce Secretary Mike Gill. "The research they conduct and the bright young minds they nurture fuel Maryland's economy and keep our state on the cutting edge of technology and discovery. We are proud to partner with the University of Maryland and look forward to seeing the fruits of the professorships for years to come.”

The University of Maryland maintains academically strong programs in data analytics, cybersecurity and machine learning, a subfield of computer science that allows analyses of and conclusions from patterns in data. Through the partnership, UMD will create FIRE research streams that focus on research problems in these fields. Each FIRE stream will be jointly designed by Capital One’s senior scientists and researchers in collaboration with UMD faculty.

“These FIRE streams will allow motivated students to gain valuable experience in tackling relevant challenges in these critical areas early in their academic careers," said FIRE Program Director Patrick Killion, Ph.D. "Capital One's commitment to and use of machine learning in their daily operations provides an opportunity that will greatly improve our program and help us produce the country's best and brightest graduates in these fields.”

The partnership between the university and Capital One is part of the university’s Greater College Park initiative, a $2 billion public-private investment to rapidly revitalize the Baltimore Avenue corridor and academic campus, which includes creating a dynamic public-private research hub. Capital One is the first, major private sector anchor to join UMD’s Discovery District, leasing 7,500 square feet in the “Diamondback Garage”, a mixed-use development located behind The Hotel at UMD that will bring new jobs to Prince George’s County.

“We are taking a major step forward in growing the Discovery District with Capital One’s presence in a new and dynamic facility located in Diamondback Garage,” said Ken Ulman, chief strategy officer for economic development at UMD. “This means more jobs for Greater College Park, more vibrancy in our surrounding communities, and a new model for how the University can engage private sector partners.”  

As a historically data-driven company, Capital One continuously seeks opportunities to create breakthrough consumer experiences through new technologies. The company’s Center for Machine Learning, which is home to several leading machine learning experts, focuses on the hiring and empowering of data scientists and the centralization of knowledge in a rapidly changing business industry. Along with the University of Maryland, the group has developed strategic partnerships with marquee universities across the country to attract and retain the best data science and machine learning talent. This builds on Capital One’s existing partnership with UMD as the university’s banking partner and generous supporter of Maryland Athletics.

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