By: Louisa Gaylord
Last Fall quarter, the University of Washington launched the Data Science minor program to bring data science to a wide range of undergraduates within and beyond the STEM fields. Data science is incredibly versatile because it brings together scientific processes and analytical tools, like deep learning and data visualization, to extract insights from large amounts of noisy, unstructured data that can be found just about anywhere. Students in the minor gain literacy and fluency in data science methods and how to bring these methods to bear in their own field of study. In fact, during the first year that the Data Science Minor was offered, 186 students enrolled in the program across multiple UW campuses and representing 54 areas of study at the university.
One of those students is Peiwen “Bonnie” Du, a senior who is currently majoring in Mathematics in addition to minoring in Data Science. Although she has taken data science courses in STEM areas like statistics, applied mathematics, and informatics, Bonnie has been surprised to learn how widespread the same methods can be, like “how data science can be used in literature,” she said. She also plans to enroll in “Data and Society,” a UW Sociology course that explores the social implications of the digital revolution, such as ethical issues associated with algorithmic design and privacy. “People pay more attention to STEM subjects,” Bonnie said, “But everything requires data science!”
Adding the Data Science Minor to your studies at the University of Washington is a great way to learn the technical skills related to generating and analyzing large amounts of data, as well as the context and the critical thinking skills to make use of those datasets. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report said that data science jobs have demonstrated a growth of 37% last year, and has been at the top of their report for the past three years.
But you don’t need to be a data scientist to find the methods incredibly helpful: LaShawnDa Pittman is an Assistant Professor of American Ethnic Studies at UW who teaches a Black Digital Studies course that explores the intersection of black studies and digital humanities, and Political Science Professor Rachel Cichowski is working on an innovative database called the European Court of Human Rights Database (ECHRdb) – both of which utilize various types of data science. Students can also look forward to some exciting new data science classes in the near future thanks to new faculty members Assistant Professor of English Anna Preus and Assistant Professor of Geography Mia Bennet, who were hired in the past year specifically to teach classes for the Data Science Minor.
Whether you are just beginning to find your way at the University of Washington, or are looking towards what comes next after graduation, the Data Science Minor can supplement your current areas of interest, and help you find the story within the data. “Data science is an area where you can find connections from virtually every field in this world,” Bonnie said.