Deanna Csomo McCool | January 3, 2018
Combining Notre Dame’s mission to be a force for good with great data science, the inaugural semester of the University’s online Master of Science in Data Science program has been a success from the outset, when a lecture from one of the world’s most prominent data scientists captivated the first cohort of students in August.
Hadley Wickham, chief scientist at RStudio and an adjunct professor of statistics at the University of Auckland, Stanford University, and Rice University, was the perfect speaker to kick off the program, said Director Roger Woodard.
“Not only are we doing great data science—technical stuff—but we also focus on doing things that align with Notre Dame’s mission. We make sure that we concentrate on the ethical use of data science,” Woodard said. “We are trying to do things that are good for the community.”
Wickham, who developed several packages that extend the usefulness of the R language, a type of statistics software computing system, worked with the City of South Bend’s code enforcement department to analyze data surrounding the characteristics of houses that were demolished. By understanding the data, officials can predict what houses would likely be demolished in the future. They can then work with homeowners to correct any issues and prevent demolition.
Through projects like this, Notre Dame’s program offers unique opportunities to its students, Woodard said. “Nonprofits or governmental agencies get something they wouldn’t get otherwise—to have their data analyzed—and our students get something they can put on their resume, so they can go work for AT&T or Facebook and do similar types of projects.”