AIR, Virginia Tech Partner to Explore Use of Big Data in Social Sciences

Washington, D.C. – The American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Virginia Tech are collaborating to explore and develop new approaches to combining, manipulating and understanding big data. The two are also looking at how big data analytics can help answer questions critical to solving issues in education, workforce, health, and human and social development.

Big data refers to high-volume data sets with unknown statistical properties that require extensive verification and come from a wide variety of data types and sources. Examples of such data include information mined from administrative data systems, social media and mobile devices.

“The partnership will bring together AIR’s extensive knowledge in the social sciences with Virginia Tech’s expertise in data analytics,” AIR President and Chief Executive Officer David Myers said. “We are excited to raise awareness of what ‘big data’ is, what it could be, and what that could lead to in terms of identifying meaningful work.”

A kick-off colloquium at AIR’s headquarters this month explored ways big data analytics can deepen understanding of the connections between education and the workforce. Future studies may cover such unstructured data—as opposed to traditional survey and administrative data—as web logs, social media, sound recording, images, videos and more.

The next conversation will focus on how big data can improve service delivery and the development of better policy. Learn more about the work from this presentation

About AIR
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity. For more information, visit



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