This summer, 29 high school students from Rhode Island and Massachusetts came to Bryant to learn about predictive modeling, 3D printing, coding, and more at “Exploring Data Science & the Art of Visualization,” the University’s free summer camp for girls. Over the course of the week-long event that took place June 24 to 28, students participated in in-depth classes, hands-on workshops, and networking events. The program culminated with group data visualization projects and presentations to fellow students, family, and friends. Participants earned a Bryant Analytics certificate, reflecting their new understanding of data science, and left camp with a curiosity for continued learning in the field, which Forbes calls one of the most valuable college majors.
“We wanted to create an opportunity to increase women’s awareness and interest in the program, since there are so few women in IT and data science."
“We wanted to create an opportunity to increase women’s awareness and interest in the program, since there are so few women in IT and data science. We also hoped these students would see that data science can be a lot of fun,” said Suhong Li, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Information Systems and Analytics and lead organizer of the camp.
“An empowering experience”
Students toured Bryant’s new Data Visualization Lab and learned about the importance of visual storytelling. They learned how to use and visualize data to gain insights, how to analyze trends in data to make predictions, and how to tell a story with data using various software platforms including SAS Enterprise Miner, Python, Dialogflow, and Tableau.
“This was an empowering experience that showed us what women can do in the [STEM] field."
With instructor guidance, students formed teams and worked on their own data visualization project, on topics ranging from the progression of women and minorities in the STEM field to average SAT scores in New York City.
“This was an empowering experience that showed us what women can do in the [STEM] field,” said Jessica Zhang, a sophomore at Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, MA.
Guidance from women in the field
The program included a field trip to Fidelity Investments where students networked with female employees and learned about the real-world applications of data science. They also attended a panel with Paola Reyes, a Data Analyst at AAA Northeast, Bindiya Mittal, an IT Architect at Amica Mutual Insurance, and Cayla D’Amico ’19, a recent graduate of Bryant’s Data Science program, who shared the challenges and opportunities for women in STEM.
“As women, we bring something new to the table, a new way of thinking."
“As women, we bring something new to the table, a new way of thinking,” said Reyes. “It’s important to have that diversity, because we think differently.”
“Companies are always looking for someone to be able to connect the technology side and the business side,” said D’Amico. “As a data scientist, you’ll be able to communicate your results to business people who may not understand the technology side, and vice versa. Communication is key.”
Inspiring the next generation
In anticipation of the growing marketplace demand for skilled data scientists and analysts, Bryant launched its successful undergraduate program in Data Science in fall 2017. Through programs like the Data Science summer camp, Bryant is developing more opportunities to educate and empower girls in important STEM skills and to inspire the next generation of data scientists.