Last week, the Air Force Research Lab, with support from NIST and NSF, announced the Materials Science and Engineering Data Challenge on the challenge.gov platform. Citrine is extremely excited about this newly-launched crowdsourced competition for a number of reasons: 

  • The premise of the challenge, that many other fields have successfully leveraged large-scale data analysis but that materials lags behind in utilizing data as a resource, is directly in line with Citrine's vision as a company. 
  • The challenge recognizes that tremendous value can be extracted from materials data alone, without performing any new experiments or simulations whatsoever. Such meta-analyses of existing datasets are commonplace in the biological sciences and medicine, but virtually unheard-of in materials.
  • The challenge affirms that materials data is a key resource for the entire materials research community, and we should all be invested in expanding access to such data. 
  • Last but not least, it will be a ton of fun to see how the community creatively tackles the challenge! Crowdsourcing will undoubtedly lead to outside-the-box ideas that a small, select group of scientists would likely not think of. 

We at Citrine want to do whatever we can to expand access to participation in this competition, and to ensure that the challenge is a big success. We recognize that a particularly thorny barrier for would-be challenge participants is that structured materials data are scarce, and many of the best materials datasets exist behind paywalls. As such, we are offering two free services to challenge participants: 

  • Citrine will offer API access to the very large public materials dataset on citrination.com for challenge participants (starting late summer/early fall). Interested participants should email  bryce@citrine.io for more info. 
  • Citrine will gladly house any new data collected or aggregated for the purpose of the challenge, and host it freely and publicly forever. 

We can't wait to see what the materials community comes up with for this challenge, and we're eager to play our part! 

Comment