Urban Research Corps

The Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation invites UChicago students with diverse academic backgrounds to participate in a new data science program called the Urban Research Corps (URC).

 

The URC is a research incubator that produces relevant insights about the fundamental processes driving urban change and develops tools to help build more sustainable, equitable, and connected cities. The URC combines the Mansueto Institute’s interdisciplinary approach with technology and data to build generalizable capabilities that accelerate the practice of sustainable urban development at the local and global scales.

URC participants will have the opportunity to design, develop, test and deploy computational methods to answer fundamental questions and design scalable tools. Members of the Corps will also have opportunities to co-author blogs and scientific articles; participate in open source tool development; gain cutting-edge technical experience; present findings at events, meetups, or conferences; and participate in the release of high-profile, public-facing content.

Example research projects include:

  • Mapping informal settlements and slums on a global scale and developing algorithms to improve street access in unplanned areas of rapidly urbanizing cities.
  • Devising a production-grade pipeline to estimate the reproduction rate of COVID-19, forecasting cases two weeks into the future, and evaluating the effectiveness of policy responses.
  • Examining how well transit, cars, bicycles, micromobility devices, and ride-hailing services affect the travel time to essential urban assets across neighborhoods.

Current Openings

There are currently two open positions as part of the Urban Research Corps. These are both paid opportunities at $20/hour pay rate, for up to 15 hours per week starting in Winter Quarter through Spring 2021, with the possibility to extend. 

Million Neighborhoods Research Engineer

Deadline to apply: December 6, 2020 (extended from December 1st)

The Million Neighborhoods Initiative is a project to systematically map the world’s slums and develop tools to help accelerate community-driven planning focused on solutions to lack of services. This position will focus on working with the Million Neighborhoods codebase to refine and expand its capabilities, develop novel analyses using the data, and prototype interactive tools and improvements to the data pipeline.

Kreisman Initiative on Housing Law and Policy Research Engineer

Deadline to apply: December 6, 2020 (extended from December 1st)

The Kreisman Initiative on Housing, Law, and Policy is hosting a research project focused on a spatial analysis of questions related to housing affordability, evictions, and public policy. The opening will involve scoping possible data sources, developing questions with UChicago and community partners, and formulating a policy brief and visual analysis.

Read the full job descriptions and apply here.

 

Program Structure

Urban Research Corps graphic

The URC offers two primary tracks to program participants. Roles will often draw on elements from both tracks, although participants can request a role based on their experience, interests, and intended area of focus.

Research Engineers:

Participants in this role generally focus on data science, tech, or tool-building. Responsibilities include:

  • Working in cross-functional teams to develop data science workflows, pipelines, and reusable tools that address real-world urban challenges.
  • Conducting end-to-end analyses, including data gathering and requirements specification, data processing, and model training and prediction. Quickly iterate, test methods, obtain benchmarks, extend and tune models, and extract insights.
  • Building and prototyping tools and applications such as interactive dashboards and visualizations. Apply software development best practices and knowledge of cloud technology.
  • Transforming raw data so that is usable in downstream applications covering both analytical and operational use cases. Standardize datasets, maintain and extend workflows and ensure they run in a reliable, efficient, testable, & maintainable way.

Urban Scientists:

Participants in this role generally focus on applied R&D or academic research. Responsibilities include:

  • Working in cross-functional teams to scope and conceptualize approaches to complex problems; continuously experiment, iterate, and apply proven methods in new ways.
  • Cultivating urban science as a practical academic discipline through the application of relevant social or physical science concepts and frameworks. Translate mathematical statements into applied computational methods.
  • Designing, testing, and deploying computational methods to answer fundamental questions about cities. Draft analyses and scientific articles. Produce diagrams, figures, and scientific visualizations.
  • Testing theories and hypotheses; using visualizations to understand patterns and relationships; estimating the pattern of effects using statistical techniques; and building generalizable models.

Benefits to the Program

Urban Research Corps participants will receive:

  • $20/hour pay rate, for up to 20 hours/week (40 hours during the Summer)
  • Supervision and mentorship from University of Chicago faculty and staff
  • Dedicated physical work space at the Mansueto Institute, depending on availability
  • Opportunity to work as part of an interdisciplinary cross functional research team
  • A supportive environment that encourages the development of new skills
  • Access to cloud and high performance computing resources
  • Opportunity to co-author blogs, reports, and scientific articles
  • Opportunity to create open source tools, software libraries, and publish new datasets
  • Experience using cloud-based frameworks and applying cutting edge techniques
  • Opportunity to present findings at events, meetups, or conferences
  • Opportunity to design public-facing interactive visualizations and web content
  • Opportunity to participate in dynamic research where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration

Applying to the URC

All current UChicago graduate students are eligible to apply. Participants must be fluent in Python or R and have practical experience with advanced quantitative research methods. 

Interested in learning more? Click here to find out how to apply.

 

URC Frequently Asked Questions >>

For fullest consideration, please apply when openings are available. If no current research openings are posted, we welcome eligible students to submit an application and we will reach out with information about future opportunities.

Contact nmarchio@uchicago.edu with questions about participating in URC at the Mansueto Institute.