New academic proposals for data science as workforce demand increases

data scienceIllustration by Ray Reynet

Andres Davila | News Director

As the demand for data science jobs increases in the job market, college campuses are leaning more toward data science majors. FIU has recently created a track in data science and proposed a new data science major for the upcoming academic year.

In Fall 2023, the Department of Mathematics started a data science track for Bachelor of Science in Mathematical Sciences students. The track prepares mathematics students for the data science field, particularly in the private sector. 

PantherNOW reached out to the professors in the department for comment about the new track.

“Our curriculum is crafted to ready students for graduate studies and careers at US national research labs, where they can explore ample opportunities to integrate STEM sciences with data science technology, such as optimization and machine learning methods,” said Dr. Ciprian Gal, mathematics and statistics professor.

The track requires students to enroll in a mix of computer science courses, including new ones that are struggling as the new track is implemented.

“One of the courses in the new major, MAP 4202 Optimization (and the accompanying lab MAP 4202L), failed to attract enough students this spring and was consequently cancelled by the CASE dean’s office,” John Zweibel, an associate mathematics and statistics professor, said.

Despite the lack of attraction from students towards the new courses, the route for data science continues to be promoted at the university as the Board of Trustees approved a new data science bachelor’s degree at their Feb. 28th meeting.

The new Bachelor of Science in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence for the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences will start next year, having similar intentions as the data science track in mathematical sciences. 

According to the minutes, “the curriculum emphasizes interdisciplinary and experiential learning, training students to apply math and computer science principles to real-world data problems and developing students’ skills in effectively communicating data insights.”

The curriculum will consist of a mix of computer science and math courses, depending on the track of the major, which are Computational and Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, and Statistical Modeling.

This new program hopes to get aligned with the demand of the data science job market, a market that ranges from healthcare data analysis to financial analysis.

“The existing research infrastructure, which already supports substantial involvement by graduate students, will provide additional opportunities for undergraduate students to integrate academic enrichment and hands-on learning as they complete capstone research projects,” according to the minutes.                                  

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