Purdue Launches Data Science Initiative

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Purdue Professor Sunil Prabhakar will serve as the IDSI's inaugural director. (photo courtesy Purdue University) Purdue Professor Sunil Prabhakar will serve as the IDSI's inaugural director. (photo courtesy Purdue University)
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A new initiative at Purdue University aims to make data science education part of every student's learning experience on campus. The university says the Integrated Data Science Initiative will help create a "data science for all" ecosystem while boosting research and partnerships in the field.

The focus of the IDSI, Purdue says, is applying data science research to pressing fundamental and socially-relevant issues while also preparing students for what it calls the rapidly expanding future of a data-driven, knowledge academy. The university says graduates will become a valuable resource for businesses both in the data science fields and other sectors that are becoming more and more data intensive.

The educational component of the initiative will include classroom and lab activities, undergraduate research opportunities and data science learning communities. The university has issued a request for proposals to faculty for project ideas to advance the data science education ecosystem.

The initiative will be led by Sunil Prabhakar, professor and head of the computer science department at Purdue. As the ISDI's inaugural director, Prabhakar will be responsible for guiding the teaching and research efforts, identifying collaborations across campus, and helping to secure and allocate resources from public and private sources.

"Purdue has all the right people and experience to impact this emerging field," Prabhakar said. "Faculty and staff are excited and passionate about preparing our students and equipping our researchers with the tools they need to be successful in this pervasive and inclusive field. It’s exciting to spearhead a project that has the potential through research and education to touch the lives of so many students while having a direct economic impact."

Prabhakar says data science is applicable to every major and each student attending Purdue. The university cites a report by the Business-Higher Education Forum which says by 2020, nearly 3 million new U.S. job postings will seek workers with skills in data science and analytics.

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