(Aug. 5, 2019) – Today, UTSA Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy announced the appointment of Jianwei Niu as interim academic director of the university’s new School of Data Science (SDS), effective immediately.
In this new role, Niu will be responsible for providing leadership to propel UTSA to become the leading institution to further advance the state of knowledge in data science. This will include developing innovative transdisciplinary curriculum in data science at the undergraduate and graduate level across all fields and sectors, and laying the groundwork for the operational and administrative functions of the new school.
“Jianwei is a savvy and collaborative administrator who fully understands the vision to centralize UTSA’s talent and resources in cybersecurity, data science, data management, cloud computing and artificial intelligence into one powerful new school,” said Espy. “We are grateful to have her on board to jumpstart the organizational infrastructure and pave the way in our mission to produce a new generation of technically advanced workers in these emerging, in-demand fields.”
Niu is a UTSA professor of computer science whose research expertise is in software engineering and security. For the past year, she has served as interim chair of the Department of Computer Science and earlier this summer was appointed associate dean of University College. This dual position will allow her to work with the colleges to establish new multidisciplinary SDS-related course activities and facilitate the adoption of cyber, digital, computational and analytic approaches across the core curriculum.
Niu earned her Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Waterloo and has been at UTSA since 2005. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, National Security Agency and Microsoft, among others.
Additionally, in a joint endeavor between the School of Data Science Initiative and the Division of Academic Innovation, UTSA has launched a new online Coding Boot Camp certificate program. Offered in partnership with Trilogy Education Services, the 24-week program is designed to train students to become proficient web developers and build the professional network needed to capitalize on this highly marketable career.
According to the latest projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, web developer is one of the fastest growing careers in today’s economy with a projected 15 percent growth rate by 2026. An early outcome of the San Antonio Workforce Initiative, the UTSA Coding Boot Camp program leverages the institution’s academic strengths and networks to meet an identified skilled workforce need.
UTSA has received formal approval from the University of Texas System Board of Regents to move forward with its plans to build the School of Data Science in downtown San Antonio. The school will co-locate the university’s 70-plus faculty members in cybersecurity, cloud computing, data and analytics, and artificial intelligence under one highly collaborative roof. With a new facility housing classrooms, laboratories and research space, the school will support bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees as well as certificate programs and other professional credential educational opportunities.
Last September, UTSA received a $15 million gift from San Antonio business leader Graham Weston and a $70 million commitment from the UT System Board of Regents to support President Taylor Eighmy’s vision to build a National Security Collaboration Center and proposed School of Data Science as part of the university’s expansion and integration in downtown San Antonio. Subsequently, the university received support from the City of San Antonio and Bexar County to transfer parcels of land to use as the site of the SDS and National Security Collaboration Center (NSCC).
The SDS and NSCC are major components in UTSA’s phased, 10-year approach to accelerate tdevelopment of its Downtown Campus as a destination for producing highly skilled professionals in big data and analytics, advancing economic development in the urban core and creating prosperity for San Antonio. As the first of its kind in the state of Texas, the SDS will further solidify San Antonio’s status as the largest information security hub outside of Washington, D.C.
Construction is anticipated to begin in late fall 2020 with projected completion in the 2022-2023 academic year. A national search for a permanent director will commence this academic year.
Learn more about the UTSA School of Data Science.
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