What factors influence opioid addiction? Are fish ponds sustainable? What is the public opinion of Hawaii’s homeless population?
Twenty one Chaminade students spent a month this summer trying to answer these questions and more. Their quest was part of the Supporting Pacific Indigenous Computing Excellence (SPICE) Summer Institute in Data Science Program, a partnership between Chaminade University and the Texas Advanced Computing Center held on campus from May 20 to June 14.
The students, all from diverse majors and backgrounds, joined together for four weeks to explore the field of data science and how it can be used to solve some of our most pressing problems.
They spent the first week choosing a topic to investigate—anything from social, political, environmental, economic and health issues. Choosing a good topic was essential.
“One month is a long program, and we didn’t want the students to burn out,” says Dr. Rylan Chong ’10, data scientist and postdoctoral researcher at Chaminade University. “We wanted to make sure they were passionate about what they were doing, and that they believed in their project.”
During the second week, the students collected their datasets. They learned to access publicly available data, using sources like the Department of Education, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau, among others.
Week 3 was spent interpreting the data and piecing together their story. And in week 4, they learned to present their data and turn it into graphical visualizations, easy for a lay person to understand.
The summer program served as a launchpad for the new data science major at Chaminade University, starting this fall. Upon completion of the month-long institute, several of the students are exploring adding a minor or certificate in data science, and some are even working with outside entities to continue their projects.
“Data science provides the tools to do things on a broader, bigger scale,” says Dr. Chong. “I’m excited to see how far these students take their projects, and to see the new projects that come out of the first cohort of students in the new data science program.”
To learn more about the new major in data science, the first of its kind at a Hawaii university, visit chaminade.edu/data-science.