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Students to explore data science careers through new UTSA, Census Bureau collaboration

Students to explore data science careers through new UTSA, Census Bureau collaboration

JANUARY 9, 2023 — The University of Texas at San Antonio has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the U.S. Census Bureau to support opportunities for collaboration between the two entities to collectively expand the understanding and use of the Bureau’s data for the growth and support of our richly diverse communities.

The MOA will be formalized by UTSA President Taylor Eighmy and Census Bureau Director Robert Santos as part of the program for the January 9 grand opening of San Pedro I, home to the university’s School of Data Science. Santos, who was sworn in as director in January 2022, is a native San Antonian.

“The Census Bureau recognizes — from its own data — that UTSA is a national leader in advancing social and economic mobility for our students and community, and that the university has the academic and research expertise to support the Census Bureau’s mission of being the leading data source of the U.S. population and economy,” said UTSA Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy. “We are grateful to Director Santos for championing this vision of a mutually beneficial partnership that will ultimately lead to expanded opportunities for our students to pursue knowledge and careers in public administration and data science.”

“We seek to better understand the data needs of communities of color, and UTSA and San Antonio are uniquely positioned to help us through their community ties.”

“It's a pleasure to return to my native San Antonio. And what a great way to start off the New Year by partnering with such a prestigious institution that prides itself in providing a high-quality education to its students. I’d like to thank the UTSA administrators and the career staff at the Census Bureau who worked to make this partnership happen,” Santos said. “The Census Bureau is at the forefront of new scientific developments, and it’s important to us that we stay at the forefront. This partnership helps us to do just that. It will allow us to prepare our future leaders to be agile, resourceful, critical thinkers who can put forward creative solutions to novel problems. We at the Census Bureau are ready, willing and eager to continue building upon UTSA’s proud legacy.

“We also look to learn and benefit from the close ties that UTSA has with the community. We seek to better understand the data needs of communities of color, and UTSA and San Antonio are uniquely positioned to help us through their community ties.”

A primary goal of the collaboration between UTSA and the Census Bureau is to develop a next-generation, diverse workforce to address the challenges of conducting a national census in the United States’ increasingly rich and intersectional cultural mosaic. To that end, the MOA calls for leveraging existing and new diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at both institutions, and further developing the cultural understanding and technical skills of Census Bureau employees and UTSA students to practice equitable and informed data science and statistical analysis and community assessments.

“Coinciding with the opening of San Pedro I and the launch of the School of Data Science, this new partnership provides a clear case study of how expanding our understanding and use of data science directly impacts our society — in this case, by producing more relevant and accurate statistical data for our use by the U.S. government,” said David Mongeau, founding director of the School of Data Science. “More important, the MOA provides for hands-on, classroom-to-career training for our students who want to pursue careers across diverse, data science-related fields.”

The MOA includes a variety of cross-institutional activities as part of the agreement:

  • The Census Bureau will engage UTSA students and faculty in research opportunities to better understand issues of importance within local communities and neighborhoods in San Antonio and, more broadly, Texas.

  • The Census Bureau will provide problems, data sets and use cases to support project-based learning for UTSA students.

  • The Census Bureau will conduct recruitment and outreach activities to UTSA students for internships and career opportunities.

  • The Census Bureau will participate in academic curriculum reviews to ensure that UTSA students are well-prepared to pursue data science-related and mission critical positions with the Bureau.

  • UTSA will facilitate community dialogues on campus for Census Bureau staff to engage with representatives from local businesses, non-profits, government and schools.

  • UTSA will host two technical lectures annually by Census Bureau experts on topics related to data science.

  • UTSA will host an annual conference for Census Bureau researchers and UTSA faculty and students, as well as other University of Texas System institutions and San Antonio area colleges and universities.

Read more about the Texas Demographic Center based at UTSA.
Explore the new School of Data Science.
Learn more about the U.S. Census Bureau.

UTSA already enjoys a strong relationship with the Census Bureau through the research of faculty members such as Professor and State Demographer Lloyd Potter, who works closely with the Bureau as director of the Texas Demographic Center, and Professor of Demography Rogelio Sáenz, who in 2022 was appointed to the 21-member Census Scientific Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the Census Bureau on the design, operation and implementation of its programs, and to advise on emerging Census challenges.

“UTSA and the College for Health, Community and Policy in particular have deep and longstanding expertise in Census data and methods,” said Lynne Cossman, dean of the UTSA College for Health, Community and Policy. “Through this MOA, we can truly advance our institutional capacity for developing and promoting new and innovative methods for supporting the critical work of maintaining an accurate count and understanding of our nation’s diverse population.”

Rebecca Luther

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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