A team of CS/PSTAT researchers awarded a major NSF Data Science Corps grant

Central Coast Data Science Partnership: Training a New Generation of Data Scientists

Due to the societal and technological advances made possible by data-driven science, there is a strong demand for professionals versed in the tools and techniques needed for manipulating and understanding data. This project will develop an undergraduate curriculum in data science that spans and connects the three main public higher education systems in California: the research-driven University of California system, the practical and career-oriented California State University system, and the two-year California Community Colleges. The collaborative program will establish pathways for data science training through coursework and real-world projects. This project will impact students from diverse social, ethnic, cultural, and economic backgrounds and will improve the feeder pipelines from two-year colleges to four-year universities. This multi-campus approach to building a data science training program will foster collaborations for training a diverse workforce in data science. The resulting course materials and project outcomes will be made available so that other institutions can adopt best practices.

The partnership consists of four academic institutions on the West Coast: University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly), Santa Barbara City College (SBCC), and California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). The alliance will expand training at UCSB and Cal Poly by building on existing strengths through a sequence of new capstone courses, as well as lay the groundwork for data science curriculum development at SBCC and CSUSB, whose students will participate in a summer internship program at UCSB. Over 100 undergraduate students will be supported by stipends during the course of the project. The developed courses will emphasize programming and data inference within the context of application domains that is critical to training in data science. Students will be taught the underlying principles of data science, including data-generating processes and the role of measurement, ethics and privacy, information-processing tools for harnessing the power of big data, and the oral and written communication skills necessary for pursuing effective professional careers in the field. The program will culminate in a year-long capstone course for seniors, who will synthesize and apply previously learned data science tools and techniques in a large-scale project in a chosen domain area.