Data scientists and analysts play a critical role in making predictions, improving outcomes and building trust between firms and their clients. We are heading in a data-rich future, one that will demand a highly skilled labor force attuned to our rapidly shifting tech landscape. A strong education is a critical preparation for excelling in these spaces.
Temple University’s Fox Analytics Student Association (FASA) formed as a student professional organization (SPO) in 2019 to provide unique learning experiences for analytics and data science students. The organization is currently led by Akshatha Umesh, a graduate student in the Master of Science in Business Analytics program.
“Data science is an evolving field that can apply to almost anything,” says Akshatha. “Our main focus is to promote data science among students and give them opportunities to meet speakers from various fields.”
FASA hosted ‘Data Science Today’ on March 19, 2021. The event is part of an ongoing speaker series produced to spotlight professionals currently using data science and analytics in their work, so that students can better understand the ways in which their area of study is currently being utilized in the industry.
The event’s guest speaker was Dara Kusic, a data scientist currently working with nonprofit organizations in the bioinformatics sector. Kusic addressed how she utilizes data science in her work and outlined some best practices for collecting, assessing and presenting data to customers and clients.
“One of the seminal goals of data science is to make big data digestible,” says Kusic. “A big part of data analytics is taking raw data and turning it into meaningful information.”
The variety of questions asked by the students reflected the range of contexts in which Kusic’s insights could be applied. Questions addressed challenges such as how to judge the quality of a given set of data, highlighting the differences between working for nonprofit and for-profit organizations, and Kusic’s software preferences for a variety of tasks.
“When she spoke, people were quite amazed,” says Akshatha. “We have an impression that Amazon and Facebook use the best techniques, but I think that students were surprised to hear that NGOs are using the same methods. It was unexpected and people loved it.”
After the success of the event, Umesh expressed her commitment to continue producing events that can deliver on the organization’s goals. Changes to the world of conferencing in recent years have allowed speakers to deliver talks remotely, which expands the possibilities for who can be available to book for an event.
“It opens doors for us to invite speakers to give a talk,” says Akshatha. “I’m trying to get in touch with people from companies like Nike to talk and show us what they do. We’re trying to get speakers from areas that will interest students.”