Cornell helps unlock doors to careers in data science

Unlocking the power of big data is becoming a hot career. In the United States, it is reported in 2018 there will be more than 490,000 data science positions available but only 200,000 qualified people to fill them. With only 110 universities offering data science courses, Cornell is working to prepare future data scientists with a new course offered this semester called Data Science for All.

A joint course offered by Computer Science, Operations Research and Information Engineering (ORIE) and the Department of Statistical Science, it introduces data science to any student.

“My vision is for one day to be teaching this course to 1,000 students a year. Every educated person needs data literacy these days, whether they plan to be a scientist, doctor, attorney or a journalist,” said Michael Clarkson, a CIS senior lecturer who teaches the course with Madeleine Udell, assistant professor of ORIE.

“We are going to teach the student how to explore and visualize data, how to make predictions based on data, and how to assess the quality of those predictions and make informed decisions,” said Clarkson. “The tools we use are computer programming and statistics, which we will teach from scratch, making no assumptions about the students’ backgrounds.”

There are 54 undergrad and graduate students in the course, primarily from the College of Arts and Sciences, which satisfies a degree requirement in mathematical and quantitative reasoning. Data Science for All is based on Data 8, a course taught by Ani Adhikari and John DeNero at the University of California, Berkeley.

Leslie Morris is director of communications for Computing and Information Science.

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