Caterpillar Inc. announced the grand opening of its first data innovation lab, located in Research Park at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The lab brings together resources from key fields for the company’s research and development (R&D) efforts, including engineering, computer science, operations research and statistics, to drive innovative development through data analysis.
Gwenne Henricks, chief technology officer for Caterpillar, opened the center. "We want to marry what we already know and understand with diverse external perspectives," she said. "That's the way we're going to innovate faster and identify disruptive new ideas."
The announcement builds upon work underway at Caterpillar’s existing simulation center, also located on the Urbana-Champaign campus, which operates in conjunction with the University of Illinois’ National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Three Caterpillar employees will staff the lab, and 18 university students will work part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer.
Work at the new data innovation lab will focus on exploration of emerging and disruptive data-based technologies, as well as advanced analytics technologies, demonstrated through proof of concept projects.
The new lab also expands upon the existing recruitment efforts with the university to engage future science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent through additional research and development opportunities, and is a key component of the company’s innovation strategy. As work at the data innovation lab evolves, more information will be made available about the various activities that take place there.
The Champaign lab is the first of several Innovation Labs that the company will be launching, Henricks said.