Data Science Training for MS and PhD Students

DIRECT: Data Intensive Research Enabling Clean Technologies, a graduate training program in data enabled discovery and design of advanced materials for clean energy

Discovering new materials that will generate and store renewable energy in a low cost, environmentally benign and scalable fashion is perhaps the most important technological challenge facing society today. However, all phases of this scientific process – design, synthesis, and characterization – are routinely stymied by the same challenge: researchers are not equipped to handle the deluge of data coming from our labs and high performance computers. DIRECT addresses these challenges by providing training that will equip a new generation of energy researchers to handle the massive data sets arising from all stages of materials discovery.

About the training program

DIRECT is a new training program funded by the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship Program (NRT). It is comprised of three phases: 1) new graduate coursework at the nexus of data science and advanced materials for energy, 2) a project based learning (PBL) scheme to apply new skills and work on challenging real world problems in a team-based setting, and 3) capstone experiences that leverage broad networks spanning industry, national labs and several international partners. The thematic focus of the research is next-generation materials for batteries and photovoltaics. The project based learning component of the traineeship will provide graduate students the chance to teach and practice leadership and management skills, a unique opportunity most trainees would not otherwise receive. DIRECT trainees who complete the program will be credentialed and equipped for many new career options that require data science training and prepared with the skills needed to thrive in the economy of the 21st century.

DIRECT trainees will:

  • Participate in a customized 2-3 course sequence to gain supplementary training in data sciences and materials design and, if desired, take intensive “crash courses” in scientific computing and iPython.
  • Work with a team on a data-intensive research project relevant to your graduate work, receiving regular formative feedback from project sponsors and training experts.
  • Have the chance to participate in an internship or work abroad at partner institutions.
  • Participate in data science seminars, events, training, and professional development activities organized by the Clean Energy Institute, the eScience Institute, and the DIRECT program.
  • Have the opportunity to apply for two quarters of stipend and tuition support to complete an independent data science project 
after completion of coursework and team research project.

Sample calendar for a graduate student enrolled in DIRECT

Quarters Description
AU16 – WI17 DIRECT trainees will work with program staff to create a customized 2-3 course sequence to ensure each student meets core competencies in the area of data science (e.g., machine learning and data visualization) and materials design.
SP17 – WI18 DIRECT trainees will work in project teams on a real research project/problem related to issues of data management, processing or statistics as applied to design of new materials. Program staff and faculty will customize the project experience to be relevant to trainees PhD or MS theses/projects.
SP18 – SU18 DIRECT trainees will have the option to apply for supplemental “top off” fellowships to support an independent innovative data science project related to their thesis project.


  • Bellevue College
  • Boeing Research & Technology
  • eScience Institute
  • Pacific Northwest National Lab
  • University of Campinas, Brazil
  • Zhejiang University

Apply to DIRECT

Applications will be available Fall 2017. For more information, please contact