JUNE 6, 2022 — The UTSA School of Data Science (SDS) is among seven higher learning institutions across the nation chosen to drive social impact through data science.
The seven universities, collectively known as the Capacity Accelerator Network, represent the latest initiative by Data.org, a global platform committed to using data science to empower change.
The partnership will enable the SDS to collaborate with institutions established in data science research and education. Each member of the collaborative will select projects and develop curriculum, tools and experiential models in data science that will create channels for social mobility for students—especially those in underserved communities—and provide opportunities for social change organizations to use data science to solve problems.
The transdisciplinary professors making up the UTSA SDS team will create innovative lessons for students with special needs.
“We plan to leverage data analytics, Internet of Things and visualization as tools to develop and promote inclusive data science education at UTSA, across San Antonio, and the State of Texas,” said Jianwei Niu, associate dean of the University College. Niu, a professor in the College of Sciences’ Department of Computer Science, will be one of the 30 world-class faculty members in the new School of Data Science when it opens in January 2023.
The work of the Capacity Accelerator Network is a personal mission for Rocky Slavin, an assistant professor of computer science who identifies as Hispanic, is first generation, and a member of the SDS’ core faculty.
“This new partnership through Data.org gives us a chance to embrace other backgrounds and communities and to offer our own experiences to a broader network of partners seeking real social impact,” said Slavin.
Niu added, “In particular, the proposed work will focus on the development and delivery of data science curriculum to people with special needs, enabling the UTSA School of Data Science to become a pioneer in ‘data science for all’ efforts.”
Joining UTSA in the Capacity Accelerator Network collaboration are the data science departments at California State University, Fresno, City Colleges of Chicago, Howard University, Morehouse College, North Carolina State University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The University of Chicago, which played a key role in assembling the collaboration, will assist in the organization of the Capacity Accelerator Network with its focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.
The seven institutions will meet regularly in the next 18 months to share the results of their lessons and learning modules, ultimately creating a curriculum from their collective experience
“Great strides in science are made by individuals who seek to impact the people and world around them, but we make even greater progress when we bring people and ideas together through interdisciplinary collaboration,” said Slavin.
The UTSA School of Data Science is on a mission to educate top data scientists and lead the nation in data-intensive research. The vision of the school is to increase access and inclusion in a field of low diversity by producing data scientists who can make the world more equitable, informed and secure.
The first of its kind in Texas, the SDS is a key component in UTSA’s phased, 10-year approach to accelerating the development of its Downtown Campus as a destination for producing highly skilled professionals in data science and analytics, advancing economic development in the urban core and creating prosperity for San Antonio.
UTSA is a Tier One research university and a Hispanic Serving Institution specializing in cyber, health, fundamental futures, and social-economic transformation. UTSA aspires to become a model for student success, a great public research university, and an exemplar for strategic growth and innovative excellence.
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