Announcing new Data Science undergraduate program (welcome from the Provost)
April 13, 2015
Welcome to Winona State University!
Wow! What a special day. It is an honor to be the person to officially introduce our new Data Science program here at Winona State University. The new Data Science Program is the first of its kind in Minnesota. It is the first of its kind in Wisconsin, and Iowa, and North Dakota, and South Dakota, and so on and so on.
I want to first recognize our fantastic faculty and staff who have built this program. It is appropriate that this program would be created here at Winona State because our faculty have already created the largest undergraduate statistics program in the upper Midwest, with the exception of Iowa State. Winona State University has been a leader in the development of undergraduate statistics curriculum for over 20 years thanks to these good folks, so please give them a hand!
The catalyst for the development of this new Data Science program was the 4th annual Midwest Undergraduate Data Analytics Competition (MUDAC). In fact, MUDAC 2015 was just held this past weekend. The competition brings together nearly 100 highly talented undergraduates from 17 different colleges and universities.
These students gather on our campus to solve a data analytics problem. A successful MUDAC requires close collaboration with an industry partner – which is the partnership our faculty in the College of Science and Engineering AND the College of Business have developed with Fastenal.
Data Science has recently received considerable attention in publications such Forbes as the Harvard Business Review. The McKinsey Report estimates that the job shortage in the area of data science will be between 140,000 and 190,000 by 2018. Conservative estimates published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest at least a 20% growth in area of data science in the coming years. Clearly, our graduates will have jobs waiting for them upon graduation.
On my way in, I reviewed some of the posters on display regarding the development of this program. There was some serious thought put into ensuring this program would be successful. The typical pathways of program development were followed for this program – e.g. the curriculum was vetted through several conferences and a curriculum development expert was brought in to evaluate the curriculum before final approval.
However, the most impressive part to me is the way in which our faculty sought out direct collaboration with employers that would eventually hire our graduates. Much of an entire summer was spent interviewing hiring managers and professional data scientists. This allowed our faculty to fully understand the skill-set that was needed to have a successful career. Our faculty are committed to building upon these relationships with employers such as Fastenal and professional groups such as MinneAnalytics. MinneAnaltyics is a nonprofit community of 4,000 data scientists and analytics professionals in the Minneapolis – St. Paul area.
We are here today to celebrate the creation of this new program. However, there is still much work to be done, keeping up with the rapidly changing nature of data science. I have confidence that with our faculty’s guidance, the program’s future students will succeed well into the future.
We know this program will quickly rise in importance on the national scene and you are all here to witness its official launch! Great bragging rights!
Congratulations and thank you again to our faculty and partners for creating such an innovative program here at Winona State University.