Ptolemy Data Science Award and Grant: Tell Us How You Use Data to Benefit Humanity

  • Ptolemy Data Science Award and Grant Using Data to Benefit Humanity — Data Analysis
  • Ptolemy Data Science Award and Grant Using Data to Benefit Humanity — Space

Does your data science work benefit humanity? Apply for the Ptolemy Data Science Award and grant

Ptolemy Award Submissions for 2018 are now open!

We are excited to announce open submissions for the second annual Ptolemy Data Science Award, an award designed to recognize explorers who develop new ways to use data to improve the human condition.

Humans are explorers. Since the beginning, we’ve searched the land, sea and stars. Through our curiosity and discovery, we begin to understand the world around us. Now, through living data, we’re unlocking the human potential to understand our universe in new ways.

More and more data is created and explored every year — so much so that data science is in a state of constant evolution. Technologically, the world has reached a paradigm shift as significant as the Industrial Revolution. So Seagate has established the annual Ptolemy Data Science Award to honor groundbreaking work in data science that is changing lives for the better.

Few have the honor of unraveling the mysteries of our past — fewer still, the courage to shape our future.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us your story — how are you or your organization using data science or data technology in a unique way to benefit humanity? At Seagate, we also understand data. And we’re listening.

Watch our video introduction to the Ptolemy Award, then read below to learn how to apply.


Ptolemy — a pioneer in exploring and analyzing data

At Seagate we believe that exploration isn’t a phase. It’s the lifeblood of humanity. And humanity is on the cusp of a new era: the data age. From smart devices to large-scale intelligent systems, our world is rapidly being transformed by the power of data. Data is in flight all around us, affecting us personally, professionally and globally.

PtolemySeagate’s award is named for Ptolemy, also known as Claudius Ptolemaeus, a mathematician, astronomer and geographer who lived circa AD 100 to 170 in the city of Alexandria, Egypt, wrote his works in Koine Greek, and held Roman citizenship.

“Ptolemy was a pioneer in collecting and analyzing data. He created a model for predicting the positions of the planets based on centuries of observational data, and his methods had a huge influence on future generations of scientists,” said Jeff Fochtman, vice president of marketing at Seagate. “With this award, we want to celebrate those people or organizations that are doing incredible things in data science to improve the human condition.”

Tell us your data story and you could win a $25K grant and $10K value in Seagate products

We want to understand the story that data is uniquely writing for your data-science team, and why it’s important for all of us to hear. How is your organization using data? Submit a short introduction about your team before June 8 to qualify for consideration.

The organization selected as this year’s Ptolemy Award recipient will receive:

  • An elegant sculptural award designed by sculptor Bruno Romanelli.
  • A grant of US$25,000
  • Seagate storage products valued at US$10,000
  • The recognition that their work is of vital importance in the lives of people

How to enter: A short summary of how your work benefits humanity

Ptolemy Data Science Award judging elements - Clarity Creativity and BenefitHow to enter:

  1. Head to the Ptolemy Data Science Award page on
  2. Submit your initial interest with a very brief description of how you or your organization uses or works with data. Submit by June 8, 2018 to qualify. We will get back to you right away to see if you qualify.
  3. If you qualify, you will be asked to submit further details describing your solution, how data is used, how the solution is unique/different, and how it contributes to advancing data science for the benefit of others.

Our panel of qualified jurors sit across a breadth of industries. They’ll judge these detailed submissions on the merits of clarity, creativity and the originality of the work, solution or product, and the social benefit the work has demonstrated. The winner will be notified by June 29, 2018.

Entry is free of charge. Entry is open to US and Canada (excluding Province of Quebec) organizations. See the full terms and conditions.

The Ptolemy Award award celebrates new frontiers

As data-scientists our destination is impermanent, our journey often unknown. Ptolemy’s work serves as a reminder that despite our accomplishments there’s always a horizon ahead.

In a nod to Ptolemy — an individual who was captivated by the stars — the crown of our award trophy will be sent into the mesosphere reaching 50km above sea-level in a near-space flight that will take two-hours. This gesture representing the application of data science to the new space age serves as a symbolic reminder that humanity continues to forge new data frontiers, and gives the physical award itself its own unique data-story.

Who is CyArk: winner of the 2017 inaugural Ptolemy Data Science Award

Last year, an independent cross-industry panel chose CyArk as the inaugural 2017 Ptolemy Award winner. CyArk’s groundbreaking work in the use of data to safeguard and explore human civilization is a source of inspiration on many levels.

Learn more about CyArk in the video below.


CyArk is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to capture, archive and share the world’s important cultural heritage sites. Their “Cyber Ark” serves as a three-dimensional, virtually explorable record of these heritage sites. The trove of data can be used in the event of catastrophic loss to aid in recovery efforts, or at a minimum to provide a record of the site for posterity.

CyArk’s team uses LIDAR 3D laser-scanning equipment, along with video and photos from drones and ground cameras to create highly detailed 3D models. Data from those models can later be used by architects or conservators, as well as being shared with the general public through virtual reality (VR) gear.

For more than fifteen years CyArk has recorded hundreds of monuments on all seven continents. The sites range from modern marvels of engineering to precious archaeological sites that tell the history of the people who came before us.

“We were thrilled to be recognized by Seagate and I think we would make Ptolemy proud with the work we’re doing today,” said Elizabeth Lee, VP of Programs at CyArk. “Historic sites and monuments really are our connection to people in the past. They’re that tangible representation of the history that came before us.”

What to do after winning the Ptolemy Award

Cyark’s mission continues through a recent partnership with Google Arts & Culture.

The Open Heritage Project is a collaboration which broadens the accessibility of CyArk’s archive, so the heritage of humanity can continue to inspire wonder and curiosity for decades to come.

Seagate was founded on the belief that data is potential. Our goal is to help humanity maximize that potential by harnessing the datasphere, which is all around us. For over almost four decades, we have driven innovation with our precision-engineered data technology solutions that have empowered billions of people and businesses to realize their full potential. Now you can join us — tell us how data science is helping you contribute to enhancing humanity’s potential.


About the Author:

John Paulsen
John Paulsen is a "Data for Good" advocate, with nearly 20 years in the data storage industry. He's helped launch many industry-firsts including HAMR technology, 10K-rpm and 15K-rpm hard drives, drives designed specifically for video and for gaming, Serial ATA drives, fluid dynamic HDD motors, 60TB SSDs, and MACH.2 multi-actuator technology.