Data Innovation Lab



The Caterpillar Data Innovation Lab is located at the University of Illinois Research Park in Champaign, IL. As part of Caterpillar’s commitment to innovation and technology, the Lab takes on data driven projects to research and prove out concepts that are on the edge of our current business. These projects involve cutting edge data analytics, application development, and more. The work done by the motivated cross functional teams of students at the lab solves some of CAT's most pressing problems and pushes the boundaries of what is possible.


The CAT Data Innovation Lab gives students the unique opportunity to solve real problems faced by Caterpillar. The criterion for selecting projects for the lab are as follows: the project is at the boundary of our current business, is large enough to become its own business, is likely not to be addressed in the near future by the business, requires a new analytical capability, and represents a divergent leap. That being said, the projects all require a significant amount of research and development and utilize cutting edge technology. Lab projects deliver real results to Caterpillar and play an important role in furthering Caterpillar’s commitment to innovation.

The projects are executed in an agile project management environment.  This means that they are flexible and interactive, with sprints every two to four weeks to drive the process. Instead of developing projects for months on end only to find a mismatch between what was expected and what was produced, the Lab’s agile approach allows resources to update product owners regularly on the progress of the project. This management style allows the students to develop the project as it progresses while ensuring that stakeholders are on board with the results.

Working in an innovative agile environment allows students to heavily influence the direction of their project and gain new skills along the way. The projects are developed in a collaborative environment, so students receive the support necessary to be successful throughout the project. 

People are the Lab’s largest asset. As such, the lab places a large emphasis on developing a collaborative and inclusive work environment.  The Lab recruits teams of diverse and highly motivated students, which makes the relationships built at the lab very unique. The open floor plan of the office encourages frequent interaction between lab management and students; therefore giving everyone the opportunity to become acquainted with one another.

The culture of the lab has a strong social element. Students and management frequently go to lunches, dinners, and happy hours. This social culture makes the lab a pleasant place to work while building a cohesive team. 

The CAT Data Innovation Lab is looking for well rounded students with deep analytical skills. Each project that comes to the Lab presents new challenges, so successful students at the lab are able and willing to learn new skills,  explore new technologies, and play multiple roles within a team setting. The Lab recognizes the value that diversity brings to the team setting, so we recruit across all majors on campus. 

  • Applicants must have completed or be pursuing a BS undergraduate, MBA, MS or PhD degree in Actuarial Science, Applied Statistics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence & Analytics, Engineering (various), Computer Science, Economics, Informatics, Information Systems Management, Marketing Analytics, Mathematics, MBA with Technical Undergrad, Operations Research, Predictive Analytics, Quantitative & Computational Finance, Quantitative Finance, Statistics, or equivalent. 
  • Currently enrolled as a student at the University of Illinois, Urbana – Champaign
  • Applicants must have a minimum cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.0/4.0 scale (no rounding)
  • Experience with SAS, Python, R, SPSS, Minitab, Tableau, Hadoop, C++, C#, Java or similar tools
  • Candidate must be able to provide their own laptop for day to day work
  • Caterpillar is not currently hiring individuals for this position who now or in the future require sponsorship for employment visa status; however, as a global company, Caterpillar offers many job opportunities outside the U.S. which can be found through our employment website

Click here to apply to the Data Innovation Lab Part-Time Internship. A Caterpillar recruiter will follow up on your application. Applications are accepted year round, so students can apply at any time. 

Project 1: Lumpy Demand Forecasting

  • Project goal: Forecast demand for infrequently demanded parts
  • Technologies explored: neural networks, predictive analytics

Project 2: Part Identification

  • Project goal: Create an application with which Caterpillar dealers can more accurately identify and replace non CAT parts
  • Technologies explored: image recognition technology, mobile ready web application, database creation

Project 3: GPS Yard Tablet

  • Project goal: Create more accurate inventory management system for outdoor yards at Caterpillar dealers
  • Technologies explored: high precision GPS units, mobile ready web application, read and write database creation

Project 4: Track and Trace

  • Project goal: Build municipalities a system with which they can monitor the location and activity of the motor grader fleet
  • Technologies explored: iOS application, GPS technology, read and write database creation