Just like the professional industries that evolve all around us, colleges need to innovate, too.
We keep our finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the job market and prepare our students to meet the demands, and break into new industries with confidence and experience. It’s what we love to do (and it’s why our students love us).
And that’s exactly how Siena College’s new Data Science major came about, a four-year bachelor's program available in fall 2018.
What better way to get the latest on data science than a quick chat with Dr. Eric Breimer,
Associate Professor and Department Chair of Computer Science at Siena? We asked him a few questions about the new major and why students interested in it should be so excited.
So, it seems silly, but for those who don’t know, what is data science?
Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that every two days we produce as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization to 2003. This poses a big problem for contemporary life: how do we sift through all of this data to find meaningful knowledge? This is what data science is about, using computers and math to sift through big data sets and identify meaningful knowledge. The data science major is essentially the "Google major.”
So, in layman’s terms: In data science, computer science and mathematics are applied to help extract knowledge and understanding from large amounts of data. Almost every field needs data to be analyzed, so Siena’s Applied Data Science track allows student to pick any existing minor at Siena as an application area.
How does data science affect business, and what industries does it touch?
Data science has a profound impact on every business sector. Beyond the really obvious
powerhouse search engine Google, data science tools are used to identify your preferences on sites such as Netflix and Pandora [and] to provide market advantage to Amazon by globally connecting consumers with products. Analysis of user-generated text allows us to track cyberbullying and terrorism, we can better diagnose disease by the (voluntary) use of search histories and much more.
What’s exciting about offering data science as a new major at Siena? Can you tell us some highlights of the program?
The most exciting part, for us, is the fact that Siena's data science program focuses on data science as a liberal art. Beyond just teaching technical tools, skills and applications, we have set the program up to emphasize student thinking about the impacts of data on society and human life. You can major in data science and take an applied track in any department at Siena, and explore the impacts of big data on the chosen area, or you can major in a traditional major and minor in data science. Imagine a data science major with an applied track in digital history, or a political science major using data science tools to supercharge traditional polling techniques.
For someone who’s interested in pursuing this career path, what are some questions they can ask themselves (or faculty, counselors) to see if it’s a right fit?
Would you like being a "data detective"? Would you like the flexibility to work on interdisciplinary teams with experts in different fields, stretching from journalism (the New York Times uses this stuff) to medicine and epidemiology? Would you like to have options and what has been called the sexiest job of the 21st century?
Can you give us a look into the future of this field—job outlook, experiences to be had and skills to be learned? What can a data scientist expect to see at this field grows?
Well, McKinsey and associates have said that there will be a worldwide shortage of data
scientists. AKA, we are producing data way faster than we can produce data scientists. These are skills in critical demand, and Siena is one of only two liberal arts colleges in the Northeast offering this training.
Did he have you at “Google major”? For more information on Data Science and how to
apply to Siena College, click here!