Recognizing the growing intersection of humanities, social sciences, and STEM, West Virginia University has established a new School of Mathematical and Data Sciences that prepares students for a world where understanding large volumes of data is required in a broad spectrum of professions.
The new School has launched an additional major—data sciences—that will help students develop quantitative and computational skills to create real-world solutions to the world’s most pressing questions, including maintaining dashboards during the COVID-19 pandemic, predicting traffic patterns to improve driver safety and optimizing food delivery apps.
“It is very likely that every student at WVU some years down the road will be taking a data sciences class whether they’re an English major, a history major, a physics major or an ag major, said Earl Scime, director of the School and the Oleg D. Jefimenko Professor of Physics and Astronomy. “They can take their interest in any subject and combine it with this degree and have a very exciting career with a wide range of professional opportunities.
“A critical feature of the data sciences degree is that in a research university, students will not just be learning how to use existing tools but learning how to create new tools specific to their area of academic interest.”
Students are required to take calculus, linear algebra, statistics, computer science and data science classes, as well as declare an area of emphasis and complete a capstone project to finish the major.
“Data are not just numbers," said Snehalata Huzurbazar, who leads the data sciences program in the new school, which will be housed in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. “Numbers have always been data; but tweets are also data, as are images.”
Information for many professionals from lawyers to librarians has been collected for a long time, Huzurbazar said, but now that information is digitized and can be viewed and analyzed as data.
The undergraduate major is now open to students. The WVU School of Mathematical and Data Sciences also offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics, and a graduate certificate in statistics, as well as minors in mathematics, statistics and actuarial sciences (pending approval).
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