Virtual BigDataX Program for Undergraduates – Summer 2021

The BigDataX (from theory to practice in Big Data computing at eXtreme scales) is a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site in Chicago Illinois. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have decided to run the BigDataX completely online for the summer 2021. The program has four mentors at two institutions, the Illinois Institute of Technology and University of Chicago, with a variety of complementing expertise from theory to programming languages distributed systems, and databases; more information on potential projects has been posted. More information can be found at the general BigDataX site. For more details about the summer activities, see the BigDataX Overview and the official announcement. To apply to the program, see the online application (deadline March 1st, letters are due March 8th).

The BigDataX program will host 10 students spending 10 weeks each summer doing research in one of two interdisciplinary laboratories: 1) the DataSys Lab in CS at IIT (5 students) or 2) the Systems Group in the CI/CS at UChicago (5 students). In prior years when the BigDataX was held in person, it was important that the two labs were physically close (4 miles apart), and students had weekly activities that took place in a single lab to strengthen the cohort experience. The PIs will aim to recruit most of the students from outside of the host institutions, focusing on recruiting students from institutions without research opportunities as well as women and minorities. The Summer 2021 Program will be done completely online through a virtual setting. This is new territory for our summer program, with many unknown variables; however, we plan to carry over as many activities as we can from the in-person experience to the virtual one, in order for students to get the most our of our summer program.

For eligibility requirements, click here.


Mentors (

Project Areas:

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Undergraduate student in Mathematics, Computer Science, or Engineering at a US institution
  • US citizen or permanent resident on or before May 24th, 2021
  • Minimum GPA 3.0
  • 2 recommendation forms (must be received by March 8th, 2021; recommendations will be requested directly from recommenders after your application is submitted)

Important Dates:

  • Application deadline (submit online): March 1st, 2021
  • Recommendation forms deadline (recommendations will be requested directly from recommenders after your application is submitted): March 8th, 2021
  • Notification of decision: March 22nd, 2021
  • Program starts: May 24th, 2021
  • Program ends: July 30th, 2021

Program Highlights:

  • Spend 10 weeks immersed in research on Big Data at either Illinois Institute of Technology or University of Chicago through our virtual summer program
  • Work on large scale distributed systems (e.g. Amazon AWS Cloud, Chameleon Cloud, XSEDE Grid, Theta Supercomputer, Mystic)
  • Prepare for graduate school
  • Publish papers and attend international conferences
  • Finances (per summer):

Online Application:

To apply to the program, please submit your complete online application by the March 1st 2021 deadline. For any questions, please send email to

For more information, please visit Virtual BigDataX REU Program — Summer 2021

By Yuanyuan Zhang
Yuanyuan Zhang Manager of Research, Data & Analytics Yuanyuan Zhang