CCS Data Scholars Begins 7/5/2017

Dear Data postcards

CCS Data Scholars Begins 7/5/2017

We are beyond excited to announce that the CCS Data Scholars Summer Data Immersion program has been funded by The Children’s Trust and is launching on July 5, 2017. The proposal was led by our partners at Educate Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization with the mission to provide a path to independence for at-risk, homeless, and foster youth, through education, mentoring, and life-skills programming.

Dear Data postcardIDSC will be hosting 20-25 data scholars on the Coral Gables and RSMAS campuses from July 5th to 27th, for a series of projects that allow them to explore the wide range of possible careers in computational science. The scholars will have the opportunity to develop their command-line skills while exercising their creativity through playing with geospatial, image, and text data. The program will culminate in a project that brings together the collection, analysis, and visualization of data on a particular aspect of their lives that they choose to track for a week. This final project follows in the footsteps of the Dear Data project which produced a series of analog postcards that are now a permanent exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The CCS Data Scholars program brings together experts across the UM community and beyond, including Dr. Meghan Gillespie, a UM post-doctoral fellow who holds a PhD in Chemistry, Dr. Robin Bachin, Assistant Provost for Civic and Community Engagement, Dr. Ji Schen, faculty member at the School of Education and his student, Guanhua Chen, who is an integral part of the curriculum development team and the team that is developing program assessment methods. The UM Black Graduate Student Association and CCS’ very own Chance Scott are also providing their input in the development of the project-based curriculum. From outside UM, Claudia Gourdet, an undergraduate student who has worked with Educate Tomorrow, is making sure that we remain connected to the interests of the youth.

Computational science has infiltrated almost all disciplines; computational skills have now become foundational for those who seek to be not only users but active creators of the future. The humanities, social sciences, architecture, communication and biomedical sciences have sub disciplines that rely on computational analyses to glean insights from data. The need for data scientists in various industries is palpable. The CCS Data Scholars program strengthens the University of Miami’s position in filling this need.

Many initiatives attempt to develop students’ coding toolkit, but none of them put these tools in the context of how they may be used to understand how the world works. In addition, technological advances are allowing the collection of big data, but not its interpretation. Transforming data into knowledge relies on a skilled workforce. Integrating knowledge into human behavior relies on a science-literate public. The CCS Data Scholars program operates on both levels, by (a) cultivating a foundation for computational career paths, and (b) creating a scaffold for science-literacy through a focus on critical thinking and problem solving.

CCS Data ScholarsImportantly, the program is designed to encourage youth to pursue careers in computational science; recognizing that diversity of experience and perspective are key to innovation and the advancement of science and engineering. This is further recognized by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health through their recent solicitations for grant applications.

We are thrilled to welcome the CCS Data Scholars on campus on July 5th!

-Athena Hadjixenofontos, PhD
on behalf of the CCS Data Scholars team