To be successful in today’s workforce, students need to be proficient at analyzing and applying data. Thanks to a partnership with Google, West Virginia University will now offer a series of introductory data science courses as part of its curriculum.
Google’s Applied Computing Series teaches the foundations of computer and data science through hands-on, project-based course content, topically designed to attract students who might not consider themselves destined for a technology career.
“We are continually looking for new ways to better prepare WVU students for the increasingly data-driven jobs we see coming in the economy,” said Brian Powell, teaching assistant professor in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. “Cultivating a workforce that is familiar with programming and data science is a great way that we can help move West Virginia forward. Google’s Applied Computing Series is an opportunity for us to partner with an industry leader to help deliver resources to prepare our students for these new economy jobs.”
Faculty in the Lane Department currently teach an introductory computing course to more than 2,000 WVU students each year. The new Google two-course sequence – Applied Computing 101: Foundations of Python Programming and Applied Computing 201: How to Think Like a Data Scientist – will replace the Department’s existing Intro to Python Programming course, providing students across all majors’ knowledge that will help them increase the effective use of technology throughout society. Students who complete the two-course sequence will be eligible to apply for Google’s 10-week machine learning intensive program.
According to Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, there are things that made WVU a perfect fit for the Google partnership.
“WVU has been out front in the quest to retool the West Virginia and Appalachian economy to thrive in the third industrial revolution,” Cilento said. “Through initiatives like WV Forward, we have created partnerships to move our economy from a largely extractive mineral-based economy to one that includes advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity and information technology among others. To achieve this vision, we must educate a workforce with the technical skills to serve such industries.
“About half of WVU’s student population are from the state of West Virginia, which largely does not teach computer science in the K-12 setting,” Cilento continued. “A portion of our non-resident students come from more rural areas of surrounding states that also do not have a strong focus in computer science or programming. Deploying the Google ACS courses at WVU will level the playing field by providing broader access to many students pursuing non-computer science degrees so they can use software, technology and coding in their career pursuits.”
Over the summer, Powell will be attending a Google-hosted training in New York city to gain hands-on experience with the program and to collaborate with instructors for other schools participating in ACS. The first course is expected to be offered to students in fall 2019.