Starting in fall 2020, Meredith’s Mathematics and Computer Science Department will be offering a minor in data science.
According to Professor of Mathematics and Department Head Cammey Cole Manning, the importance of data science has grown as data has become increasingly integrated into our lives. That integration means students in a variety of disciplines can benefit from learning how to make data-driven decisions. Further, she noted, data analysis techniques are among the skills employers increasingly look for, both for internships and jobs.
“A number of our alumnae have found meaningful work in this field, and we get many inquiries from current and prospective students about opportunities in data science and analytics,” said Manning. “It is our hope that this minor will lay the foundation for the development of a data science major.”
Students who complete the minor will be able to collect and prepare data for analysis; exhibit a broad base of knowledge of languages, data visualization, and analysis techniques; interpret results, form conclusions, and communicate findings; and demonstrate professional and ethical behaviors and attitudes.
Student Reaction to Pilot Course
An introduction to data analysis course was piloted in the spring 2020 semester, taught by Assistant Professor of Mathematics Emily Lada, who has over 13 years of industry experience and a Ph.D. in Operations Research. According to Manning, Lada’s extensive background has been key to developing the data science minor.
Students who participated in the pilot said they enjoyed the course and gained valuable insights and knowledge about the field of data science.
Jenny Glidewell,’20, was able to immediately use her newfound data knowledge in an internship she held on a data integrations team.
“I loved learning how to use JMP, a statistical software from SAS,” said Glidewell. “Dr. Lada’s first-hand experience with JMP when she worked at SAS brought real world experience into the classroom. Data is becoming an important part of our lives and I would highly recommend this course for any major.”
For Sarah Moody, ’21, taking the pilot course piqued her interest in how data is being used in various media.
“After taking this class, my curiosity has grown to dig deeper into all the graphs and data figures being thrown around in advertising these days,” said Moody. “I now feel confident in my ability to approach problems, come up with different graphs and visual analyzations of the data and effectively report findings.”
Katie Thompson, ’21 also said she gained key skills that she would use, both in future classes and in her career.
“Data science is becoming a growing field in pretty much every industry, and this course allowed me to see the power of data to transform numbers into valuable insights that many companies, non-profits, and institutions of all kinds find beneficial when making real-world decisions.”
Liz Wolfinger, dean of the School of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, said she is pleased that Meredith is expanding its STEM offerings with the new minor.
“Employers, graduate programs, and students recognize the need for data analytics in a broad array of fields,” said Wolfinger. “The program faculty have a combination of strong academic backgrounds and relevant industry experience, which has resulted in an excellent new minor option for Meredith students.”