Collecting and interpreting data is big business – and only growing bigger. Data is collected through apps, automobile technology, and even kitchen appliances that connect to the web. Now, BSC students – and Birmingham-area students and professionals – have the opportunity to study data science in an intensive program on the Hilltop.
Birmingham-Southern is launching an Accelerated Data Science Program in collaboration with Flatiron School. The program will begin its first term in summer 2021. It’s the first of its kind for undergraduate students in Alabama, and it is the first undergraduate data science collaboration between Flatiron School and a college or university.
Within the BSC and Flatiron collaboration, programming, coding, and other data skills meet the academic rigor and challenge of our liberal arts foundation. Students who enroll will enter a 12-week immersive curriculum focused on collecting and interpreting data.
“BSC will have an even more significant impact on Birmingham’s future by teaching data science and how to apply it across disciplines in the liberal arts, and by providing internships to our students at the companies that are most likely to create new jobs,” says President Daniel B. Coleman. “What makes the BSC program different is that while it does instill knowledge of programming and coding, it does so in the context of how that knowledge will be applied to serve a wide range of industries, businesses, and professions.”
The list of career opportunities for employees who can apply data is long and growing: data drives decisions in medicine, public health, hospitality, media, construction, insurance, real estate, agriculture, banking and securities, transportation, energy, and sports. Educational opportunities like the data science program are also crucial in Birmingham, where only one of every 6.4 technology job opportunities is being filled according to a 2018 Burning Glass report.
Through new curriculum and the commitment to data science, BSC hopes to prepare students for a rapidly growing field – in Birmingham and beyond – all as a part of the liberal arts mindset.
“One of the primary skills fostered by the liberal arts is critical thinking,” says Provost Dr. Bradley J. Caskey. “The liberal arts give individuals tools to analyze an issue based on evidence and draw conclusions. Unleashing the power of data through statistics is a powerful tool that goes hand in hand with critical thinking and is integral to a modern-day liberal arts education.”
What skills will data science students gain?
Students who complete the program will be able to retrieve, organize, and interpret data using Python; better visualize consumer, social, and popular trends; explore data to create new hypotheses for advanced analysis; use presentation techniques and share insights on data with others; build new and evolving skills on top of a fundamental understanding of data science; and apply knowledge in data science to any other discipline. After completing the series of three-week classes, each student will receive a paid internship with a local company.
The BSC Data Science Advisory Council includes 12 co-founders, a chief technology officer, and a vice president, representing some of the most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders in Birmingham and Huntsville. Participating companies include Regions Bank and Shipt, as well as Airship, DealNews, Fleetio, Guideway Care, Harmony Venture Labs, IllumniCare, MotionMobs, NxtSoft, O3 Solutions, Quanthub, Rippleworx, and Vituro Health.
Who is eligible to enroll in the program?
The program is open to current BSC students and students from other colleges and universities who can receive transferable credits back to their home institutions. The program also can accommodate employees from area companies wishing to build skills in data science. Total enrollment is limited at 100 students.
What sets these courses apart from others?
The accelerated curriculum is typically only found at the graduate school level. BSC will now be able to offer the experience to undergraduate students and professionals in the area. The program is also a big step for data science learning opportunities in Alabama since it will be the first undergraduate partnership with Flatiron and the first program of its kind in the state. Plus, the combination of a liberal arts approach with data provides students with a well-rounded foundation in whatever career they pursue.
What is the impact of data science?
Data can be found everywhere, and collecting and interpreting that data is crucial. The World Economic Forum predicted 44 zettabytes of data would be in existence at the beginning of 2020. And following that impact comes the demand for jobs: By 2026, there will be 11.5 million job openings in data science, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As an essential part of our daily lives, data science is a growing field where we believe our students can thrive after they leave the Hilltop.
Applications are now open to enroll through March 30. Interested students can also sign up for an online information session that will be held at 12 p.m. CST Feb. 10. Learn more about the application process, enrollment and tuition, and more at http://www.bsc.edu/academics/datascience.