It seems like you can't go more than a day, maybe a few hours, without reading an article or hearing someone talk about the importance of working with data, either for academic research or as part of business operations. Data science has taken off in the last 10 years, growing almost exponentially according to Google Ngram View, itself a data science tool used to visualize how frequently words appear in books.
Hovering around 0.0000000% for years, the phrase "data science" now accounts for 0.0000800% of all words written in the English language in 2019. But what is data science, and how can you get involved in it through the NCSSM Online Program?
The term “data scientist” began circulating around 2008 when companies realized they had a need for data professionals who were skilled in organizing and analyzing the massive amounts of data they were collecting in their day-to-day operations. Data scientists need to be able to apply their skills in statistics and computer programing to tackle a problem in a specific content area, ranging from science, humanities, engineering, software -- the only limit is your imagination. Through building mathematical models with quantitative skills, data scientists can effectively communicate their findings to a larger audience who can enact change based on their results. Technological changes of the last decade have rapidly advanced both the tools and sheer amount of data available to statisticians, and the field of data science often feels like a modernization of statistical practices that have been around for over 100 years.
To help NCSSM students be a part of this exciting new field, the Online Program offers several courses that utilize the tools, techniques, and mindsets of a data scientist. You may have taken Mr. Bob Gotwals’ Data Science for Scientists course this year, or other courses that utilize similar tools, such as Computational Chemistry or Computational Biology. Next year, we're excited to announce that we'll be offering Foundations of Data Science, a course aimed specifically at students who are interested in getting into data science and don't necessarily have extensive work in statistics, computer science, or life sciences. This course is based off of the wildly successful Data 8 course offered by UC Berkeley and equips students with everything they need to work with large datasets and understand the statistical tools needed to draw conclusions from the data. Students who complete this course will be ready to tackle additional course work in computational science, computer science, and/or artificial intelligence, or, just apply their newfound knowledge to enhance their work in courses at their home high school.
In the meantime, be on the lookout for a Spring Data Science Panel Series coming your way soon! If you missed out on the Fall 2020 series, these events bring data scientists from NC universities, as well as local businesses, to explain what data science is all about and how these important skills are used in their classrooms, labs, and places of work. There's plenty of time for Q&A, so if you're not sure if data science is the right fit for you, come hear a little more about it and get your questions answered! Our first event of the spring will be held the first week of March, and an email with signups will be sent out soon.
Have a great start to the spring semester!