Skip to main content

The Haslam College of Business will host its Innovations in Data-Rich Environments Research Workshop from Wednesday to Friday, June 8-10. Twenty-five of the world’s top academic researchers and industry professionals in the technology field will attend, including keynote speakers from IBM.

Tim Humphrey, vice president of analytics and acquisitions enterprise services at IBM, will lead a discussion on applications for cognitive computing—a system’s ability to understand, reason, and learn. According to Humphrey, cognitive systems are driving the next technological wave found in big data.

“Data is growing rapidly and cognitive computing gives us the opportunity to mine unstructured data, which was previously dark,” Humphrey said. “Interacting with the information and learning just like humans, cognitive systems automatically adjust and provide the right type of insight.”

Thomas Ward and Rashida Hodge, also both of IBM, will join Humphrey and provide examples of how IBM and external clients are leveraging the insights that cognitive computing is unlocking across numerous domains.

The workshop also will visit a microfactory of Local Motors, the first company to manufacture a car through 3-D printing, and the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Engineers at Local Motors and IBM are currently working to enable interaction between car, driver and the outside environment, a first step toward self-driving vehicles.

“We look forward to hosting this conference, as the link between digital data-rich environments and next-generation manufacturing is strong,” said Kurtis Hodge, an economist at Local Motors. “We’re welcoming the third Industrial Revolution.”

The Manufacturing Demonstration Facility has created breakthroughs in 3-D printing and composite materials, and is assisting industry in their applications.

“Collection of data helps us understand what is happening at every stage of the process, so we can go back and fine-tune components,” said Suresh Babu, UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Advanced Manufacturing. “All of this information informs the supply chain for any industry, depending on which qualities in the components they require for their products.”

Academic researchers from seven countries were invited to the workshop based on the strength of the research they submitted to a special edition of the Journal of Product Innovation Management. Charles Noble, associate dean for research and faculty in the Haslam College of Business, and Neeraj Bharadwaj, an associate professor of marketing, co-edited the special edition and organized the event.

“A primary aim of this event is to bring together many great minds in a single room, which will hopefully lead to a deeper understanding of the key issues at the intersection of innovation and data-rich environments and stimulate further collaboration,” said Bharadwaj.

Noble added, “Our aim is to provide a forum at which groundbreaking thinking from both the academy and practice can be shared.”

The Journal of Product Innovation Management (JPIM), the Marketing Science Institute (MSI), and UT’s Office of Research and Engagement are co-sponsoring the event.

Gloria Barczak, JPIM’s editor, and Kay Lemon, executive director of MSI, will speak at the workshop. They will be joined by several manufacturing materials scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


Katie Bahr (865-974-3589,