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Data Science Bootcamp: Training and Preparation for the Future

By Jefferson Huddle

The College of Sciences at Old Dominion University held its debut Data Science Boot Camp at the end of the 2022 May semester at the Engineering and Computational Sciences building. The six-day boot camp was organized by Lesley Greene, associate professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry and associate dean for the College of Sciences.

Every boot camp comes with a motto, such as the U.S. Army's, "This we'll defend" or the Marine Corps's famous "Semper Fidelis." "Training for today, preparation for the future" was the motto for ODU's Data Science Boot Camp. From beginning to end, ODU participants gained knowledge into how their research and projects could benefit from data science techniques.

There were 24 graduate students and professors from six departments within the College of Sciences who participated in the boot camp, which included: Chemistry & Biochemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics & Statistics, Ocean & Earth Sciences, Physics, and Psychology as well as the interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences program.

"Data science and artificial intelligence will impact all of the science fields," said Greene. "It is very important that we start training our faculty and students so they can become acquainted and deeply aware of this critical field."

Because this is an interdisciplinary field, ODU faculty from the departments of Computer Science and Mathematics & Statistics led the data science boot camp.

"The boot camp was extremely helpful for students specifically in fields such as Psychology or Chemistry, where data science work is less prevalent," said Greene. After having exposure and hands-on learning through the camp, students in these or other fields will leave better prepared for a future in their desired field.

Gail Dodge, dean of the College of Sciences, praised this initiative. "Data science has the potential to enable big advances in many fields of science," Dodge said. "We want to make sure our graduate students and junior faculty are trained in some of these emerging techniques."

The six days of the boot camp were organized as follows:

Day 1-2: Modeling for Data Science and Machine Learning

Day 1 (Morning): Introduction to Data Science and Machine Learning

Day 1 (Afternoon): Python Programming (Numpy, Pandas, etc)

Day 2 (Morning): Python Programming

Day 2 (Afternoon): Introduction to Regression/Classification

Day 3: Data Manipulation and Data Visualization

(Morning): Practical examples - real cases

(Afternoon): Practical examples - real cases

Day 4-5: Statistical Learning

Day 4: Introduction to R programming

Day 5: Supervised learning and Unsupervised learning

Day 6: Functional Data Analysis and Adversarial Learning

(Morning): Functional Data Analysis

(Afternoon): Adversarial Learning

"It was mainly for individuals who were less experienced in the field," said Greene. It provided insight into the field of data science and artificial intelligence. ODU students and faculty were provided tools in data science required to become successful in these fields. "Most importantly it gave researchers insight towards how data science can help in their own research," said Greene.

Given the success of the Data Science Boot Camp's inaugural year, the College of Sciences is planning to expand the program next year.