USC extends IBM collaboration to attach cognitive computing for IoT offerings

The University of South Carolina and IBM extended on Thursday their alliance to include cognitive capabilities and the Internet of Things (IoT) to develop new solutions for predictive analytics and maintenance. The partners also announced opening of the $25 million ‘Center for Applied Innovation’ in Columbia, South Carolina. The Center will support university, IBM and private sector researchers, including Fluor Corporation, who will collaborate to develop real-world applications for the Internet of Things using cognitive computing, predictive analytics and predictive maintenance software.

Fluor is a vendor of engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction and project management, serves as a strategic advisor, providing insight into emerging trends and requirements that will drive offerings delivered from the center. Fluor also has a major operations center in nearby Greenville, S.C.

Initial projects will include developing ways to enhance and personalize tools in higher education, make aircraft more reliable and supply chains more efficient.


“IBM and USC are working together to provide organizations across industries with the research expertise and tools needed to manage, analyze and more deeply understand massive amounts of data from the Internet of Things,” said Chris O’Connor, General Manager, Offerings, IBM Watson Internet of Things. “Bringing together cognition with the IoT is revolutionizing our joint research on compelling use cases for connected assets and better asset health, for example, including ways to utilize predictive maintenance to minimize costly downtime using technologies that sense, reason and learn.”

This alliance builds on USC’s Center for Predictive Maintenance (CPM) and McNair Aerospace’s deep expertise in IoT research for predictive maintenance. USC is currently using predictive analytics to make maintenance on a host of military aircraft more efficient and reliable.

Coupled with IBM Watson IoT expertise and technologies, the Center also will house university, IBM and other private sector researchers dedicated to creating new IoT applications, including interconnected health equipment and supply chains. Construction on the 110,000 square-foot Center for Applied Innovation began in February last year.

With IoT representing the new frontier in applied research and relying on gathering and integrating large amounts of data taken from an array of interconnected sources to improve how they all function together. IoT holds the potential to reinvent the way people drive, make purchases, get medical treatment, and even how they get energy for their homes.

“This new center places the University squarely in the mix with some of tech’s hottest areas — cognitive and the Internet of Things,” said USC President Harris Pastides. “It also represents the potential for strong public private partnerships to advance our educational mission and significantly raise our research profile.”

Located in USC’s Innovista research district, the Center for Applied Innovation was formed in 2014 to provide application services to both public and private sector organizations across North America specializing in analytics and higher education industry solutions. Together, IBM and USC have been working to create personalized learning tools for both students and educators using analytics to better align content, student assessments and learner data.

“Fluor is pleased to partner with IBM and the University of South Carolina on this facility, which will keep the university at the forefront of innovation for decades to come,” said David Seaton, chairman and CEO of Fluor. “We look forward to accessing the knowledge, innovations and skills gained by USC students and graduates working with, and as a part of the Center for Applied Innovation, to help provide state-of-the-art methods and techniques, supporting leading edge technological advancements in the integrated solutions we provide to our clients.”

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