As part of the graduate curriculum in the Master of Science in Data Science program, students participate in an immersion during the summer between their first and second years. While not graded or part of any course, the immersion experience is designed to help students transition from an academic setting to a real-life situation where data needs to be preprocessed, visualized, and analyzed in order to discover a trend and lead to business decisions. During the immersion, the students work together and apply the skills learned in their data science coursework to provide solutions for a local business or entity.
This year, the Data Science students were charged with helping the Diversity & Inclusion of the Regional Economic Development Strategy for South Bend-Elkhart to improve the region’s national Metropolitan Statistical Area rank of minority income disparity to the 80th percentile. The students received a data set collected by the committee and focused on sets that were tied to entrepreneurship, with a goal of explaining the economic impact, revenues generated, and jobs created/retained of minority and women owned businesses in a five county region.
At the conclusion of the immersion week, students submitted a written report and presented their findings to the committee and made recommendations like capturing the process and procedure in generating reports and gathering data. Data Science student Kelly Inman said, “I enjoyed the opportunity to meet and collaborate with my classmates during the immersion experience. We were able to help a local organization gain valuable insights from several disparate data sets by applying the statistical and data visualization principles we'd learned in class. Additionally, the communication course was great preparation for the presentation we gave at the end.”
"The summer immersion project was a great experience and is an important part of our program," said Elizabeth Caldwell. "I enjoyed the chance to work with my classmates. For two semesters, we have seen each other's names online. Having the opportunity to come together and apply what we've learned to help the community was really exciting. It was also nice to have an opportunity to spend some time on campus!"