Think and Do

Data is getting bigger: In today’s world, cellphones, assembly lines and even whole ecosystems are packed with sensors that collect mountains of new information. How we manage these growing data sets may determine the future prosperity of our state and nation.

At NC State, we wield data as a force for good.

Our world-leading faculty members collaborate across disciplines to meet tomorrow’s challenges. We send our students into the workforce with the skills and experience to compete in emerging fields. Together with our partners in government and industry, we’re undaunted by the explosion of data — and excited by the good that can be done with it.

The NC State Belltower at night, surrounded by colorful camera flares.

NC State is home to some of the nation’s leading data-analysis initiatives.

Wielding Data for Wellness

Assistant Professor Rui Song, who works in the NC State Department of Statistics, stands with her arms folded in front of a whiteboard.

NC State researchers are working to lengthen and strengthen human life.

From day one, NC State has used its knowledge to improve lives across North Carolina and the nation.

Staying at the forefront of that effort requires collaborative thinking and skills that span disciplines. That’s why some of our best and brightest faculty work in clusters to attack problems from every angle.

At the intersection of genetics, statistics, computer science and biology, NC State researchers are sifting giant data sets to find life-saving insights. Our faculty cluster at the Bioinformatics Research Center is coordinating a big-data approach to tackle some of the world’s most persistent problems, from food insecurity to the spread of disease.

Dr. Veena Misra and Dr. John Muth at work in a high-tech ASSIST laboratory.

At ASSIST, we’re creating nanodevices powered by the same bodies they monitor.

We do more than analyze the data that surround us; we also seek them out in unlikely places and use them in innovative ways. Through ASSIST, one of two National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centers on campus, NC State is heading the national effort to create self-powered devices that monitor health in real time. Soon, wearable sensors made of silver nanowires will measure the strain on a joint across fractions of a second.

The right data can even serve as a replacement nervous system. In 2003, we paired with UNC-Chapel Hill to found the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. The department’s researchers are developing data-driven algorithms that form the connection between an amputee’s muscle signals and the smart prosthetic that helps her walk — creating a literal link between “think” and “do.”

88,000 Papers in One Searchable Database

To connect the dots between pharmaceutical drugs and their side effects, NC State researchers condensed seven decades’ worth of research into a single repository.

See how the database supports human health. 

Exploring and Sustaining Our World

NC State students silhouetted against a screen showing urban sprawl at the Teaching and Visualization Lab.

The Teaching and Visualization Lab at the Hunt Library is helping to produce the analysts we need.

Thanks to big data, uncharted territory could soon be a thing of the past.

That’s the promise of geospatial analytics, one of the fastest-growing fields in the nation. U.S. employers face a shortfall of 8,000 high-end analytics jobs each year, and NC State is leading the charge to fill those positions with qualified graduates.

At the Center for Geospatial Analytics, staff and students from 20 departments are honing the skills needed to map, model, chart and capture the details of the planet we share. Together with a top-notch faculty cluster, they’re turning complex spatial data into sustainable solutions. That means cutting-edge insights into a host of problems, from global carbon emissions to Charlotte’s urban sprawl.

“No single academic discipline can solve 21st-century problems. Answers come at the intersection of disciplines and from analyzing mounds of data.”

— Terri Lomax, vice chancellor for research, innovation and economic development

NC State supplies data to support industry and government. Sometimes that support is literal: At the Constructed Facilities Laboratory, researchers test how infrastructure will stand up to extreme temperatures, earthquakes or 2 million pounds of force. Clients from around the globe send materials here to undergo testing that will determine whether they’re ready for the real world.

Preparation for the future is an NC State specialty. As earth’s growing population and changing climate put our food supply in jeopardy, we’re working to predict how crops will cope. Computer scientists are joining plant geneticists to speed up the modeling process and ensure humanity will have enough to eat.

Working With Thinkers and Doers

An aerial view of NC State's Centennial Campus and Lake Raleigh beyond.

Centennial Campus is a hub for hubs, home to dozens of research initiatives.

Demand has never been higher for NC State’s data-driven approach.

Last fiscal year, our sponsored research awards surpassed $300 million, setting a new university record. Since 2007, federal funding is up 71 percent, and awards from industry have more than doubled.

Key to this success is an innovative partnership model that makes fruitful collaboration simple and straightforward. On our Centennial Campus, more than 60 private and public partners are reaping the rewards of NC State’s problem-solving approach.

In 2013, we secured a $60 million federal grant to create the Laboratory for Analytic Sciences, the cornerstone of our emerging big-data hub. This year, we were chosen by the National Nuclear Security Administration to spearhead nonproliferation research. We’re developing the analytics tools — and talent — needed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

Two men look over plans for a huge solar panel array as part of the FREEDM initiative at NC State.

NC State is leading the effort to revitalize America’s energy supply.

NC State also leads two national initiatives to overhaul the energy sector. The first is FREEDM, the NSF Engineering Research Center that’s rolling out the smart grid — an “energy Internet” that routes power where it’s needed. The second is PowerAmerica, a $140 million advanced manufacturing institute tasked with developing the highly efficient semiconductors of the future. Together, they’re reshaping American energy for the better.

Across the public and private sectors, our research yields real-world results. Just ask Eastman Chemical: In the past two years, the Fortune 500 firm has sponsored 30 projects on campus, leading to six patent applications for new and improved products. When we work with partners to solve problems, everyone benefits, from businesses and consumers to faculty and students.

That’s data in action. That’s NC State — creating prosperity for all.

Join Forces With Us

The strength of the wolf is the Pack. Through our social channels, we share the stories of how we're creating prosperity for you and for all. Connect with NC State and help us show the world how we think and do.