Last semester, UNCW welcomed the first cohort of 17 students to the new accelerated master’s degree in data science program.
The program, developed by the computer science and mathematics and statistics departments, emphasizes computational-based applications of traditional data analysis methods and current trends in data mining and machine learning.
Reflective of UNCW’s strategic priorities, the program prepares students for post-graduate success and helps to meet workforce needs in our area and beyond. Data science is a quickly growing field. In 2017, for the second year in a row, the employment website Glassdoor.com ranked data scientist first on its list of “The Best Jobs in America,” noting a high demand for employees with specialized skills in data analysis and programming.
“In 20 years of teaching graduate classes, I have never seen students more excited about a program and the opportunities that await them,” said Mark Lammers, program director and professor in UNCW’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
UNCW developed its data science program with feedback from the business community. Representatives from General Electric, PPD, Live Oak Bank, SAS, Trillium, Castle Branch, NC Biotechnology Center, Cape Fear Women in Tech, Array Biostatistics, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) and ATMC sit on the program’s advisory board.
Last October, the program’s students met with representatives from several of these companies - as well as others in need of employees with the unique skill set the program provides - at a mixer on UNCW’s campus. In addition to providing students with technical skills and knowledge, the program provides opportunities for them to interact with potential employers and mentors. It also provides the business community with recruitment and partnership opportunities.
Graduates of the program will have the skills to compete for highly sought-after positions in a variety of industries. UNCW’s commitment to applied learning ensures that students gain hands-on experience in their field through internships and faculty-directed research, and our collaborative mindset enriches these opportunities.
Two students in the program, Nick Rupp and Greg Terlecky, are currently working with Dylan McNamara, chair and associate professor in UNCW’s Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, on a project related to his National Science Foundation-funded investigation of public policy and the future of coastal communities. Alongside McNamara in the Complex Adaptive Systems Lab, the students are looking for insight into the dynamics of disaster events.
This type of cross-discipline, experiential learning is the hallmark of the UNCW experience and is critical to student success.
“Collecting data is ubiquitous among organizations in both the public and private sectors; however, effective use of that data for improving decision making and other processes is not,” said Jim Blum, professor in UNCW’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “We expect our program to provide highly trained people to a variety of employers to help them get the most out of the variety of data available to them.”
The M.S. Data Science program is accepting applications for 2018 now through June 1. Priority consideration will be given to applications received by March 1. For more information, contact Mark Lammers, program director.
Aswani Volety, Ph.D., is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and a professor in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology. Volety earned a Ph.D. in marine science from the College of William & Mary, and a master’s and a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Andhra University. The College of Arts and Sciences is UNCW’s largest academic unit, employing over 450 full-time and 150 part-time faculty members and awarding approximately three quarters of the university’s academic credits. Volety serves as the chief academic, fiscal and administrative officer of the college, which is responsible for educating students across the arts, sciences, humanities and social sciences, and includes the UNCW Center for Marine Science. Volety is also the current president of the Southern Association of Marine Labs.To learn more about the UNCW College of Arts and Sciences, visit www.uncw.edu/cas. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].
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