Dr. Olfa Nasraoui Receives Awards for Research Experiences for Teachers in Big Data and Data Science

March 2, 2018

Headshot of Ofla NasraouiEarly last month, Dr. Olfa Nasraoui, a Professor and Endowed Chair for E-Commerce in the department of Computer Engineering & Computer Science received a prestigious Research Experiences for Teachers award.

Working in partnership with Stephanie B. Philipp, Ph.D., College of Education and Human Development, Nasraoui is leading a 3-year funded grant to jointly develop Big Data teaching modules with participating high school instructors from JCPS, Bullitt County and Carroll County school districts. The two will work with participating teachers to incorporate their materials practically into their curriculum, in an effort to not only increase awareness in STEM programs, but to develop instructional modules and course materials for employment in class.

Leading an interdisciplinary team, Nasraoui and her colleagues hope to form a model to properly inform a new generation of educators on the virtues of STEM research. To do that, they are recruiting a variety of teachers from Jefferson County Public Schools and the Ohio Valley Education Consortium, recruiting high school science, math, engineering and computer science teachers from those districts. The project's goal is to introduce students to real world problems, giving them the opportunity to find low-cost, practical solutions.

“We are excited to offer this unique opportunity for 10 area teachers per year for 3 years to get up to speed on the most advanced and state of the art in Big Data and Data Science, so that they can have an impact on teaching thousands of students and to disseminate what they learned to other teachers throughout the nation," said Nasraoui. "Computer Science and Data Science are quickly becoming a critical building block of modern society and education, the 4th R in the so called 3 Rs. We are honored to play a part in this effort.”

The RET award is rare, not only available to a handful of applicants per annum, but the first such award granted to anyone at the Speed School. Totaling $598,000, the grant affords opportunities for regional and university specific pedagogical research.

According to Interim Dean Gail DePuy, “This award is important because it will positively impact a large number of people. By teaching the teachers, Dr, Nasraoui and her team will effectively be educating many students for years to come about big data and data science.”

“Big data science is such an important field these days as it is being used to solve real world problems in numerous fields including healthcare, city optimization, robotics, finance, logistics, security, transportation and law enforcement," said Dr. Kevin Walsh, Associate Dean of Research. "NSF only awarded 9 such grants throughout the entire country, so we are especially proud of Olfa and her amazing team."