Are students from colleges and universities other than the University of Washington eligible to apply?
Yes. You may be a student from any degree-granting college or university.
I am an incoming or prospective university student, a recent graduate, or a student at a data science boot camp. Am I eligible to apply?
Unfortunately you are not eligible to apply. Only current students at degree-granting colleges or universities may apply. You must be enrolled in a degree-granting program in both the Spring 2020 term and the Autumn 2020 term in order to be eligible to apply.
You are, however, eligible to apply as a project lead, if you have a project you would like to propose for the program. Please see our Call for Proposals for further information.
I am an international student in the U.S., or a student at a college or university outside the U.S. What visas are required to apply for the program?
Since fellows receive a monetary stipend, you are required to have an F1 work visa (CPT or OPT) in place prior to submitting your application. UW cannot sponsor visas for program participants. If you have an EAD work permit, you may be eligible to apply – please indicate the expiration date in your application. If you are a UW student, please contact the International Student Services office for eligibility questions and check out this website for more information about F1 regulations.
Unfortunately, applicants with the following visas are not eligible: B1, J1, H4, or travel visas (with one exception: Canadian students with a B1/B2 visa are eligible). Fellows are not permitted to work as volunteers.
What are the chances of undergraduates being accepted?
This program is very competitive but 3-4 slots of the 16 available have typically gone to undergrads (only those with junior or senior standing are eligible to apply).
What is your rate of acceptance?
Historically, we have gotten over 200 applications from prospective student fellows each year, and most years, we have admitted 16 fellows to the program, so our acceptance rate tends to be less than eight percent.
I can participate for most of the scheduled time between June 15th and August 21st, but I will be traveling for one week during this time. Can I apply?
Unfortunately you are not eligible to apply. Fellows are expected to participate in program activities in-person and full-time throughout the program. Absences cannot be accommodated during the first or final two weeks of the program (June 15 – July 3 and August 10 – 21). During the middle six weeks of the program (July 6 – August 7), applicants may miss up to two days of the program for pre-planned activities. Such absences must be requested in advance. When submitting an application as a prospective DSSG fellow, you will be asked to affirm that you can comply with these attendance policies.
Do you provide housing, or assistance with finding housing?
Unfortunately, the eScience Institute is unable to provide housing for student fellows. DSSG fellows are responsible for securing their own housing accommodations during the program. As soon as we have finalized the 2019 cohort, we will create a Slack Channel and/or Facebook page where visiting fellows can share information, look for roommates, or ask local fellows for advice. There are also a number of campus resources you can access. UW hosts a sublet website where you can find available units for the summer: http://washington.uloop.com/housing/index.php/sublets. Guest Housing in UW dorms is available after June 18: https://hfs.uw.edu/Conference-Services/Guest-Housing. Summer intern housing is also available on campus: https://hfs.uw.edu/Conference-Services/Seattle-Intern-Housing. And you can also find the University Housing Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/445293202296621/?fref=nf.
What level of programming experience is necessary?
We expect all students to have some programming experience, but we do not have set requirements for level of programming experience or the preferred programming language(s). Your experience across a range of activities, including technical, quantitative, and qualitative work, will be taken into account during the review process.
I am not sure what is meant by “social good” experience? What kinds of activities should be listed on the application?
We have an open definition of “social good,” and are truly interested in hearing how you interpret this for yourself. But relevant experience might include social justice activism, civic engagement, community organizing, applied research addressing pressing social issues, work with nonprofit organizations, civic technology development, humanitarian assistance, community-based participatory research, charitable fundraising, and many other things. Relevant experience does not need to be technical in nature, nor does it need to overlap with your educational/research activities.
When will I receive a response to my application?
Short-listed applicants will be notified by March 16, 2020.
What technical tools are used by the research teams?
This really varies depending on the needs of the project. Research teams have used a variety of programming languages in the past, but the most common are probably Python, R, and SQL. Most teams in the past have used cloud computing resources to some extent in their work. A lot of our projects have a spatial analysis component and incorporate ArcGIS or QGIS. Nearly all projects involve some sort of visualization, which might involve learning tools like Shiny, D3, Tableau, and others. Many teams also end up using Jupyter Notebooks for part of their workflow. The only tool that is pretty much universal across all DSSG projects is Git and Github for version control. You are not required to have expertise in any specific languages or tools coming into the program, and we will provide tutorials on most if not all of these technologies as needed throughout the summer.
I don’t have a computer. Is there one that I could use at the Studio?
We expect all participants to have a personal laptop and bring it to the Studio for all DSSG activities. However, if you do not have a laptop, we can rent or borrow a laptop for you.
When will this year’s DSSG projects be announced? If I am selected as a DSSG Student Fellow, will I get to choose which project I will work on?
We plan to have projects selected around the same time that we are finalizing the cohort of DSSG fellows, but please keep in mind that our projects have a lot of moving parts (multiple stakeholders, data licensing agreements, etc.) and sometimes this takes a little bit longer to come together. Once we have our projects finalized, we will send incoming fellows a brief description of each project for ranking according to their preferred assignments. We try our best to make sure that every fellow is assigned to either their first or second choice of project, but this isn’t always possible depending on how preferences are distributed across the cohort. We also consider other factors when forming teams, such as education level (e.g. undergrad v. advanced graduate students), technical skills, and experience with social good.
How are the 10 weeks of the DSSG program structured?
The first two weeks of the program have a lot of structured group activities, such as icebreakers and program orientation, essential technical tutorials, stakeholder analyses and field research outings, ethics and human-centered design workshops, and project charter development. During the rest of the program, there are minimal structured activities for all program participants; these includes a weekly “standup meeting” and social hour. We also occasionally offer tutorials throughout the summer as needed. Aside from that, you will develop a regular team schedule in conjunction with your project leads, data science mentors, and possibly external stakeholders. The final week of the program will include a public presentation of your work.
What can I expect to learn in the program?
In dividing the work on the project, your learning objectives will be balanced with the methodological needs of your team’s research question. You might get much better at certain skills you’re already bringing with you into the program, and you might learn entirely new skills as well. In the past, some of our fellows have picked up a totally new programming language, gotten familiar with cloud computing resources, trained a machine learning algorithm for the first time, etc. etc. It’s hard to say exactly what skills you will spend your time on, as each project will be different in nature; moreover, within each team, individuals may be working on different aspects of the project. Having said that, all students can expect to learn a lot about cleaning data, working in interdisciplinary and cross-sector teams, grappling with ethical questions in data-intensive work, thinking from a human-centered design perspective, and using best practices in reproducible science. Also, you will likely be working on a project in a domain or problem space that is new to you, and you can expect to learn a lot about that subject matter.
I prefer to work independently. Are there options for working outside of a project team?
No. Teamwork is an indispensable part of the DSSG experience. Every year, fellows overwhelmingly rank working collaboratively with their teammates as one of the most impactful and rewarding aspects of the program. But it can also be challenging, and we realize that this is not the kind of challenge everyone seeks. If you know that you get stressed out by things like waiting for consensus to emerge, sharing attribution for your work, or modulating your pace of work to accommodate others, then this program might not be the best fit for you.
What kind of mentorship do DSSG fellows get?
Each team will have one or two Project Leads; these are typically the individuals who proposed the project and will sustain the work after the summer is over. Each team will also have one or two Data Science Mentors; these are research scientists from the eScience Institute who provide advice on tools, methods, and software design, and sometimes provide project management support as well. The program will also have a Human-Centered Data Science Mentor; this person works across all four teams to help integrate stakeholder perspectives and ensure that the work is well-documented and reproducible.
What are my obligations as a DSSG fellow?
This is a full-time (40 hour/week) time commitment, and you are expected to show up and work alongside your teammates every business day (Mon-Fri, except holidays). You are expected to fully participate in all program activities, and to be a team player. You are expected to act ethically, use best practices in open and reproducible science whenever possible, do rigorous research, and keep the needs of your project leads and other stakeholders in mind. You will also be asked to write at least one blog post about your project or your experience in the program.