By Henry Shorr
In a collaboration with Purdue University, Youngstown State University has created the YSU Data Mine, along with a data mining program, to provide Penguins opportunities in the emergent field of data science.
Data mining is an evolving practice in which data scientists extract and examine large swaths of information to find trends and patterns. Data science is used in fields like healthcare, politics and market economics, but more fields are discovering uses for data mining.
Purdue created its data mine in 2019. The Purdue Data Mine’s website says that it is, “the first large-scale learning community for undergraduate and graduate students from all majors, focused on Data Science for All.”
Mark Ward, director of the Purdue Data Mine, said he is working hard to bring data science programs to schools across the country, thanks to grants received from the National Science Foundation.
“We were fortunate to get another National Science Foundation grant to help work with students at minority-serving institutions,” Ward said. “That was starting this fall, that we can have, like, 100 students each year from minority-serving institutions but Youngstown State was not a minority serving institution.”
Ward explained that Ohio State Senator Michael Rulli was instrumental in putting YSU on Purdue’s radar. He said Rulli called him one day and said he wanted to bring President Jim Tressel and Jennifer Oddo, executive director of the Center for Workforce Education and Innovation, out to Purdue to meet with them about setting up a partnership. From there, the ball got rolling quickly.
“[Rulli, Tressel and Oddo] all came over to Purdue from Ohio for two days. And the goal was to brainstorm about partnerships,” Ward said. “It was such a pleasure. We met in April, and in August, like literally, [that] was that, I guess. Just over three months later.”
Oddo said the university welcomed the aid of Purdue University through the process of setting up the data mine and data mining program.
“We’re very grateful through our partnership with Purdue that they are helping us to title this program and launch in a programmatic way,” Oddo said. “The program really has done an exceptional job of really packaging up the training and the approach that companies can take to help engage our students on new data projects.”
Oddo noted how important staying current is in an industry that is changing “faster than education can keep up.” She also explained how integral data will be in most industries in the near future.
“Data is the new natural resource,” Oddo said. “We need to train more students to understand data and understand how to use data so they can solve problems for their employers when they emerge into the workforce.”
Ward said he sees many opportunities for collaboration between the different data mines being set up around the country.
“I’ll be really happy as Youngstown State continues to build its data science offerings. We want to be supportive and yet we also want to promote the ability of YSU to coordinate things on their own. YSU continues to grow its capability in the [data mining] space,” he said. “I also hope to have a whole consortium of schools that work together like as friends … you know that we have some kind of mutual agreement where we can be learning from each other.”
Oddo said she is glad to have Purdue in YSU’s corner and also to have them as a guidebook to success.
“Purdue has, you know, so many students participating and we’ve given them a much larger University and my goal was that we will have, you know, many more active employers and students from across every discipline here at the University participating,” she said. “So whether you’re in business or healthcare or education, our goal is to find projects around data that are relevant in different domain areas that we can give students experience in the field.”
The YSU Data Mine will be able to provide students from any major the ability to take classes for credit in this emergent field, and also to work with potential employers to solve real-world problems using data. There are already several large companies signed on as sponsors for the program, such as NUVVE, John Deere and Lockheed Martin.
For information on the YSU Data Mine, go to YSU’s workforce page on the subject; from there, people can request information and register for the program.