The Recap: South Big Data Hub Education and Workforce Working Group Call

Members discuss the importance of the 21st century workforce using data science across industry, academia and government

Members of the South Big Data Hub Education (SBDH) Education and Workforce Working Group began a conversation this week around identification of core learning needs for data science, including the retention of students in the STEM pipeline and the recruitment of new and diverse students to the field of data science.

Leveraging the SBDH community, 28 members from nine Southeastern states shared their knowledge of current data science training opportunities in an open forum and delved into ideas for connecting and expanding upon those initiatives.  

Much of the conversation on learning needs for data science students centered around the importance of including skills other than core technical demands – skills like communication and digital storytelling – in any program that promises a degree. Likewise, focus was given to novel methods of student engagement in data science, such as social good programs, that include a much higher percentage of women than traditional computing, and programs that incorporate data science into arts and humanities to reach a broader set of students than would traditionally consider data science careers.

“There is an art to data science that should be further explored which will open doors to students with a creative perspective,” emphasized Donna-M. Fernandez, co-founder and COO of Metistream.

Programs that equate learning data science with advancing ones career (such as coding bootcamps or EdX-type MOOCs), making the community a better place (like Data Science for Social Good), or ones that offer mentorship (like the Meyerhoff Scholars Program) offer new and proven models for updating the data science education space, a topic under discussion at an upcoming National Academies Workshop this fall, says Chaitanya Baru of NSF/CISE.

By the end of the conversation, the Education and Workforce group recognized that one of the most pressing issue in STEM/ data science education may not be that it is not happening enough but rather that people need guidance about the opportunities available to them and vigilance regarding best practices. As an organization with a goal of connection, the SBDH plans to leverage its partnerships with industry, government, and academia in the Southeast to clarify and strengthen the network of learning opportunities for the workforce of the future.

As our group continues its conversations, we welcome your additions to data science education resources and ideas in the comments section, or you can read more about the work of the group here.


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