Industry and educational leaders share their thoughts on Why Data Science and Data Science Education are important for the future of North Carolina.
Sean Ekins, Ph.D., DSc. – CEO and Founder, Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
After my decades of experience of using AI for drug discovery and finding the ease with which the technology can be misused, it occurred to me that teaching ethics focused on the technology as early as possible would help to prevent potentially devastating consequences.
It’s likely that there is not a single solution for preventing misuse of AI, it will likely require an array of approaches in parallel, for example, increasing ethical training for scientists using these technologies as well as providing regulations and keeping humans in the loop.
When an AI makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, and your inner voice tells you to stop using it further, you realize the immense power this technology could wield in the wrong hands and they might not have that inner voice nor stop.
If we could train everyone during K-12 so that they understood ethics and could handle AI technologies, I would feel more certain of the safety of the next generation and our continued existence as a species on this planet.
Training people in using AI is easy. Teaching responsible use of the technology is also easy, we just don’t do it!
Dashiel (Dash) Young-Saver – High School Math Teacher, San Antonio, TX; Founder & Executive Director, Skew the Script
The modern world is rich in data and poor in data literacy. Data science education arms students with the skills they need to become critical thinkers and responsible citizens in an information-laden world. For traditionally underserved students in particular, data science also provides a means “to empowerment. In addition to job market appeal, learning data skills can give students new windows into exploring and contextualizing real issues that affect their lives.
Talithia Williams, Ph.D. – pbs nova wonders, harvey mudd college
Data science education equips students with analytical skills that enable them to make informed decisions and solve real-world problems in an increasingly data-driven society. When we introduce these concepts early, students can explore more diverse career opportunities, creating a skilled workforce and ultimately contributing to North Carolina’s technological and economic growth.
Shawn Cradit, Ed.D., MS, MA, ATC – certified atheletic trainer and coporate wellness director; assistant teaching porfessor in health and exercise studies, nc state university
Data Science is everywhere, having the ability to understand, interpret, and analyze that data is how we all solve problems. Every day we are faced with multiple sets of data and understanding how to make choices based on this data is important and may lead to new discoveries. Data Science is constantly evolving and changing, which is exciting.
Emily h. griffith, ph.d. – associate professor of the practice, department of statistics; director of consulting, DSA, NC state university
We are surrounded by data, and understanding its benefits and limitations is a vital skill for any North Carolinian to be able to make informed decisions for their own lives and for our state.
terry maroney – law professor, vanderbilt university
Today’s lawyers, judges, and legislators need a basic level of familiarity with data science, given its growing relevance to legal issues,” said Professor Terry A. Maroney of Vanderbilt University Law School. “Otherwise the legal system will be unable to regulate new technologies, handle the increasing use of artificial intelligence in legal briefing and evidence discovery, and evaluate algorithmic decision tools – and these are just a few examples. Unfortunately, few legal professionals today have even that basic familiarity, and it’s still a common joke to say ‘I went to law school so I wouldn’t have to learn math.’ And the next generation of lawyers, judges, and legislators–the ones still in K-12–will need not familiarity, but native fluency.
timothy humphrey – ibm chief analytics officer
When I talk to people outside of tech, I let them know that you don’t have to be a computer scientist or a data scientist. You do need to become data-driven and data-literate to function in a world with the tech developments of the last 20 years. We need to think of data as a natural resource like air or water or oil. And we need to get that thinking in place as early as possible.
julia koschinsky, ph.d. – executive director and senior research associate, center for spatial data science, university of chicago
As data science and AI become increasingly important to society, we need a workforce that is proficient in programming and statistics to tackle data challenges. However, this isn’t enough. Data scientists need to gain skills that go beyond what AI chatbots can do; they need to know how to apply critical and creative thinking, as well as scientific reasoning, to solving data problems. By training data scientists in technical and reasoning skills, NC State’s Data Science Academy positions students in NC to close key gaps currently faced by industry.
Huiling Ding, Ph.D. – Professor for the Department of English, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, NC State University
With the rise of AI powered by big data, Data Science can help the state of North Carolina with economic growth, innovation, and technological advancement in all sectors harnessing AI-driven tools. By creating the talent pipeline of ethical and creative data scientists, Data Science Education will help shape future development and implementation of AI, incorporate ethical thinking while reducing biases throughout the AI and data science life cycle, raise awareness of data ethics as well as societal impacts of big data, and contribute to informed decision-making across organizations.
Maria Lord – Studying Political Science & Communication at NC State University, Intern for Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) through NC State Career Development Center and the SECU Public Fellows Internship Program
I thought that it was very beneficial to be able to develop data science skills. As a humanities student, it can be hard to find opportunities to develop hard skills and the data project was a good opportunity to do that.
Kevin Baxter – Vice Chancellor and Chief Campus Officer, NCSSM-Morganton
In our data-driven world, we are preparing students not only to navigate, but also to innovate. By integrating data science across our high school curriculum, we’re fostering data-literate youth equipped to lead North Carolina forward in an ever-evolving digital age.
Quotes from Utah Public Schoo Students Enrolled in the Data Science Pilot Classroom
Why did you choose to take data science?
- I chose to take data science because math isn’t really one of my strengths.
- To learn something different than basic math, i wanted to learn stuff about computers, while it still being math
- I don’t like math and I didn’t want to take SM3, so I chose this as an alternative.
- Because its a more interesting way to do math
- I wanted to try something different this year when it came to math. I had already taken sm3 but didn”t love it so i thought I would take a break from that math and do this.
Which topics did you find most challenging or interesting?
- I find it most challenging to learn new functions and their properties and ways of plugging them in.
- How to code is both challenging and interesting
Would you recommend your data science program to others? Why or why not?
- I would, I find the class very interesting and cool to learn.
- Yes. I know a lot of people that could use a change of scenery in math
- Yes, it’s more interactive and you’re not just spewing information
- I would recommend it to people who like to do programming and love math.
- Yeah, it’s actually pretty interesting and fun.
Did you learn/Are you learning practical skills that are directly applicable to your job or internships?
- Yes, I believe the R language can be used in a job based setting.
- Yes, I think, its at least more useful than math I was learning
Do you wish you had taken a data science course earlier in your educational career, and if so, why? How do you think it might have benefited you if you had started sooner?
- Yes, only because math has always been really hard for me so I wish this class was
- I think i took it at the perfect time because i feel like i learned the most important stuff big ideas had