Prof. Dehne combines interdisciplinary research with university management and industry collaboration, thereby creating new opportunities for research and teaching. For example, he collaborated with IBM to create an Institute for Data Science and an interdisciplinary Master’s program in data science where students from 17 departments in the Sciences, Engineering, Business, Arts, and Social Sciences learn how to work together on interdisciplinary data science projects.
Founding Director, Institute for Data Science (2015 – 2022)
Prof. Dehne’s research collaboration with the IBM Centre For Advanced Studies helped Carleton University be the first university in Canada to receive a $1M startup grant from IBM for the establishment of a data science research centre in 2015. Prof. Dehne became the Founding Director of the new Carleton University Institute for Data Science (CUIDS).
In order to create strong data science programs of study, it is necessary for students from technology programs in Science & Engineering to develop the ability to collaborate with students from Business, Arts, Social Science, and Natural Sciences, and vice versa. Thus emerged the idea to create a graduate program where students learn hands-on how to collaborate with students from very different disciplines by doing collaborative interdisciplinary data science projects.
Prof. Dehne initiated and led negotiations with 17 departments across campus: Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Business, Chemistry, Cognitive Science, Communication, Computer Science, Economics, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Geography, Health Sciences, History, Information Technology, International Affairs, Physics, Psychology, Public Policy & Administration. The new interdisciplinary program in data science consists of a common core and additional discipline specific courses for each field. At the heart of the common core, required for all students from all disciplines, is the DATA5000 data science interdisciplinary project. All students are organized into project groups of two students, each: one student from Computer Science, Engineering or IT, and the other student from the Natural Sciences, Business, Arts or Social Science. Each project group has a different project topic. For example, a Computer Science and Business student may collaborate on a supply chain analytics project. The Business student provides the business knowledge and data, and the Computer Science student provides the technical skills to build a software solution. Similarly, a Geography student and a Computer Engineering student could collaborate on a smart city or climate change problem. A Communications student and an IT student could collaborate on a Twitter analytics question. Many of these projects are supported by industry and government partners who provide real life research questions and data.
Carleton’s interdisciplinary data science program is in very high demand, and admission criteria are among the highest on campus. Within seven years, enrolment grew to over 250 Master’s students, and it has become the third largest graduate program at Carleton University. In 2022, the university approved a PhD program in data science.
Director, School of Computer Science (2000 – 2003 and 2006 – 2008)
During his first term as Director (2000-2003), Prof. Dehne negotiated with senior management a major expansion of the School of Computer Science, based on a strategic research and teaching plan. In addition to new tenure track faculty positions to match large enrolment increases, the university also agreed to a 25% teaching load reduction for Computer Science faculty members. The goal was to be more competitive when hiring strong researchers in strategic areas of importance, and thereby strengthen the School’s research program. The outcome was a significant measurable increase in research impact. For example, the 2009 Thomson Reuters Science Watch ranked the Carleton University School of Computer Science for the first time among the Top 5 in “Canadian Universities: Highest Impact in Computer Science” (together with UBC, U. Toronto, Western, and McGill). Prof. Dehne also led the creation of new Computer Science programs in Bioinformatics and Information Systems Security. In addition, he created an IT re-training program to compete with private IT re-training organizations. This academic “business venture” provided better quality re-training for students and raised additional funds for the university.
His second term as Director (2006-2008) was devoted to managing the impact of the “dot-com crisis”. Worldwide enrolments in Computer Science had decreased sharply, and the size of Carleton’s incoming first year Computer Science class had decreased by more than 60%. Prof. Dehne was asked to serve a second term as Director because the School needed experienced leadership. Anecdotal and focus group data indicated that in addition to the dot-com jobs crisis, student perception of Computer Science had changed. Interest in core computer programming had decreased. However, there was an increased interest in computer applications. Therefore, the School re-organized and re-branded the entire program into five specialization streams (Computer Game Development, Network Computing, Information Systems Security, Software and Computing, Software Engineering) and four interdisciplinary streams (Biomedical Computing, Management & Business Systems, Law, Psychology). The result was substantial. While other universities suffered further enrolment decreases in subsequent years, Carleton’s enrolment fully recovered within two years and then grew beyond pre dot-com levels. In addition, there was a significant improvement in the quality (high school averages) of student applicants.