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Brewer taps Bud Lab at University of Illinois

Anheuser-Busch aims to gain access to new talent to work on big data, analytics projects

September 5, 2013 03:54 PM ET

Computerworld - Belgium-based brewer Anheuser-Busch has set up a "Bud Lab" at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign as part of an effort to gain access to young engineering talent.

The facility at the University's Research Park is slated to be formally opened on Friday.

The Bud Lab team will focus its efforts on data analytics and research projects on various subjects, including "assortment optimization, social media and market trends," the company said in a statement.

In a statement, Anheuser-Busch chief people and technology officer Claudio Garcia said the company hopes the facility and its work will help attract top statistics, computer science, business and engineering students. "We strongly believe that our collaboration will put forth new and exciting solutions and insights, and we look forward to working closely with the team here."

Anheuser-Busch did not immediately respond to a request for more details on the kind of data analytics projects planned for Bud Labs.

Laura Frerichs director of Research Park and economic development at the school, said the lab will provide students hands-on experience in data analysis and big data projects. She also noted that the moves gives the brewer working access to a large pool of engineers and statisticians hoping for for a career in data analytics and artificial intelligence.

Frerichs said the school's highly regarded engineering program allows Busch to tap talented students at a relatively low cost, she said.

Importantly, Frerichs added, Busch has access via a direct fiber link to the university's 13 petaflop Blue Waters supercomputer, one of the fastest computers on a U.S. university campus. The supercomputer is housed in a nearby National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) facility, she said.

Busch will directly employ graduate and undergraduate students in part time jobs. Some will be offered full-time jobs after they graduate, Frerichs said.

International students who are not eligible to work directly for employers in the U.S. will be hired by the University and then contracted out to Busch, she noted.

Most of the intellectual property developed under the joint effort will be property of Busch, she said.

Anheuser-Busch is the latest company to sign such an agreement to run a facility in the university's Research Park. Since it was established in the early 2000s, more than 90 companies, including Yahoo, Abbott, Caterpillar and ADM, have launched research programs there.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at Twitter@jaivijayan, or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed Vijayan RSS. His email address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

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