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Big Four auditor investing $11 million in CMU

Aaron Aupperlee
| Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, 11:45 a.m.

PwC US, an international consulting firm — formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers — and one of the Big Four auditors, will invest $11 million this year and potentially $31 million over the next five years in Carnegie Mellon University to establish a Risk and Regulatory Services Innovation Center.

The center will be housed inside CMU's H. John Heinz III College.

The center will use data science and social science to better understand how people react to emerging technologies and new services, said Ramayya Krishnan, dean of the Heinz College.

Krishnan said faculty and students will focus on public safety and safe cities, information privacy and cyber security, and how advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and automation could transform the field of auditing. The partnership combines PwC's real-world ties with CMU's strong academics, Krishnan said.

“They are constantly seeing problems out there in the real world caused by all the problems that we are talking about,” Krishnan said.

CMU President Subra Suresh said in statement that the center will give faculty and students an opportunity to work on real-world business problems. Dean Simone, U.S. risk assurance leader at PwC, said in the same news release that the firm is looking to help its clients use technology to solve challenges and build trust.

The investment from PwC will go toward the center, a faculty chair and fellowships. The center will support and conduct education and non-federal research, develop executive training courses for chief risk officers and chief privacy officers and study how businesses use technology to solve organization-wide issues and address compliance requirements, a news release from the university stated.

Krishnan said the center could look at issues such as how a community feels about policing or other government services using hard data and softer, anecdotal information. The center could tackle questions of security and trust posed by the expansion of the Internet of Things, the realm of internet-connected devices such as refrigerators, baby monitors and thermostats.

CMU's announcement of the investment and center comes two months after K&L Gates gave the university $10 million to study the ethics of artificial intelligence. The university said it has partnerships with more than 350 U.S. companies.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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