Data Science: Exposure to Major Series

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Data Science: Exposure to Major Series

The data sciences option in the college of engineering focuses on the computational foundations of data science including the design implementation and analysis of algorithms and software and manage the volume complexity heterogeneity and dynamic characteristics of large data sets. There are many applications for computational data science including commerce, communication, entertainment, finance, medicine, and the social, physical, and life sciences.

Data sciences students complete coursework in areas such as: artificial intelligence, machine learning, programming language concepts, mathematical statistics, pattern recognition, and visualization. Demand for data science students is strong and is likely to grow in the future from social networking to location-aware devices, healthcare to automotive, data scientists change the way we look at and live in the world today.

They are employed in the private sector as well as in government agencies. Penn State data science graduates are often employed as data analysts or big data engineers, statisticians, business intelligence reporting professionals, program or project managers researchers, and entrepreneurs. The data sciences degree is part of an inter-college initiative among the College of Information Sciences and Technology, the College of Engineering, and the Eberly College of Science.

Well, data scientists get to play in everybody’s backyard. Data scientists can work in the scientific domains to accelerate scientific discovery. They can work in companies to help mine their data and make their business processes more efficient. They can also create their own startups based around smart devices and how they interact with people. I always knew I liked problem-solving, math and statistics and computer programming and once I actually heard about the data science major here at Penn State I was all for it.

Pulls upon ideas from IST, engineering, and statistics and kind of melds them all together into one interesting major. Extracting knowledge from data is like mining gold. The hard part is how we can extract knowledge from the data. If you look at the history of science we have different disciplines, we have mathematical science, we have experimental science and data science is basically a new branch of science.

It’s a very, very rapidly growing area and it’s still in some ways under definition and I think one of the things that’s unique about data science at Penn State is that there are three different ways to be in the program with a focus more on applications, more on computer science foundations, more on statistics. I think my major has a good mix of courses. We start by taking a lot of the basic introductory computer science courses and then we transfer into more advanced level statistics courses to get that analysis portion and then we have specific data science courses as well.

What I love about the data science major is how it brings in so many broad disciplines and different industries into one cohesive field. So, you’re able to touch so many different things and you can really target what you’re most interested in and focus on that and get the most out of what you want within the major.

Within my experience, I’ve worked a lot with gas and electric utilities. As we build a transactional smart grid, there are big challenges there that require data science and analytics, looking at what’s happening day in and day, trying to learn from the patterns of how consumers use energy, but those same things apply to lots of other industries, whether it’s monitoring crops and looking at them, whether it’s working with pharmaceuticals and customer responses to them or even over into buzz areas like autonomous vehicles, where we try to look at huge datasets and manage patterns within them.

Once you have that proficiency you can look at lots of vertical industries that are going to want to leverage that capability to deliver results within their space. There’s always room for improvement, there’s always room to better a process or better technology to help people in some way shape or form. So, I think my major really allows me to analyze what is the next thing that we want to improve and what is the next way that we want to help people in a specific industry.

Algorithms based on data science and artificial intelligence are used throughout the world. Their effect on society is often hidden, but they’re used to predict your success, they’re used to filter job applications, determine what prices you see, and in general determine the opportunities that you get. So, the world needs more people who understand these algorithms, know their weaknesses, know how to improve them, how to make them more fair, and in general just make them better.



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