Central College has added two new data science areas of emphasis beginning Fall 2022 — one with a focus in mathematics and the other in computer science.
The new interdisciplinary data science tracks at Central teach students skills in programming, modeling, machine learning, data visualization and statistics as well as how to assess the ways data can be used to solve novel problems.
Central faculty created the data science focus in response to changes in the data science industry and high demand in the workforce. Data science skills can be used in a variety of areas such as politics, business, economics and athletics. Students are encouraged to pick up coursework outside their major in other fields where data science can be applied.
Central’s program is unique as most colleges offer one major program called data science. The two distinct tracks offer students greater flexibility and focus to match their backgrounds and professional interests.
“This allows students to come at data science from different skill perspectives,” says Russ Goodman, professor of mathematics. “The computer science major with a data science track allows students to enter the data science world while focusing on skills like coding and working with databases.”
“The mathematics major with a data science track exposes students to coding, too,” he adds, “but enhances students’ data science skills with a solid background in statistics and mathematical modeling, both key components to working in data science.”
“Big data collection and interpretation infiltrates every industry,” says Wendy Weber, professor of mathematics. “Our students will learn a variety of statistical and data tools, such as Python, R and advanced spreadsheet skills, applied statistics, data visualization and machine learning, to name a few. Equally important, they learn how to be flexible. We’re not going to teach students one thing because that’s probably not going to be the one thing they will need or use forever. We focus on how coding works and how data are stored so our students can be flexible throughout their lifetime.”
Central’s bachelor’s degrees in computer science with data science and mathematics with data science will prepare graduates for careers as data analysts who work with raw data; data scientists who address real-world business problems; data engineers who process real-time data; data modelers who build database structures; and data architects who create databases for storage and retrieval of data.