Today@Sam Article

Partnership Provides Preparation For Data Science Careers

Jan. 4, 2022
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Crandall

Partnering with the University of Houston and three other schools, Sam Houston State University is providing an opportunity for students to prepare for careers in the energy industry through a National Science Foundation grant and a five-week summer data science camp.

Faculty Group Leading Data Science Program

Houston is considered the energy capital of the world and is committed to lead the transition to more sustainable and cleaner energy. Data science is a key piece of that transition.

“The need for data scientists is growing across the country and particularly in our region,” said Melinda Holt, associate dean of the College of Science & Engineering Technology. “Sam Houston is looking to address that need in partnership with the University of Houston, University of Houston-Downtown, University of Houston-Victoria, and University of Houston-Clear Lake.”

With a $1.49 million grant from NSF that is funded through 2024, the University of Houston “Data Science for Energy Transition” project will kick off with the inaugural data science summer camp in 2022. The camp will accept and fund 40 undergraduate or masters level students.

“Applicants do not have to be STEM majors. They just need an interest in data science and at least 30 college credit hours. We will bring them up to speed on everything they need to know,” Holt said. “Students will be trained on a wide range of important topics, including statistics and machine learning, geology and geophysics, engineering, programming and visualization, and public policy.”

SHSU Professors Leading Data Science ProgramHolt, a professor of statistics, and Department of Mathematics and Statistics Assistant Professor Doo Young Kim will serve as leaders for SHSU’s participation.

The diverse topics covered sets the program apart from others that prepare students for more narrow paths.

“Our goal with the summer camp is to give students a solid footing in data science and energy-related companies in Houston and elsewhere,” said Mikyoung Jun, ConocoPhillips Professor of Data Science at the UH College of Natural Science and Mathematics and principal investigator of the project. “Although that may be their first career move, they may settle in other industries later. Good skills in data processing can make them wise hires for many technology-oriented organizations.”

The camp will take place on the University of Houston campus, but it will be offered in a hybrid format. Students will have the option to participate online and take day trips into Houston, if needed.

“The summer coursework will take place Monday through Thursday with instruction in the morning and team projects in the afternoon,” Holt explained. “Because SHSU has the necessary software freely available, students can be a part of this from wherever they are. The content will be demanding, though, so participants are expected to commit fully with no outside jobs or courses.”

Faculty Leader Zoom Meeting Screenshot

The program also partners with leaders in the energy industry to provide experience analyzing real industry data and potential internship opportunities. Some of these partners include ConocoPhillips, Schlumberger, Fugro, Quantico Energy Solutions, Shell and Xecta Web Technologies.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to collaborate with faculty and students from the University of Houston, its satellite campuses, SHSU, and industry leaders across Houston,” Holt said. “It is also a chance to break into one of the fields of the future.”

The application deadline for the five-week camp is Feb. 28, 2022, but it is recommended that interested students apply early to have the best chance at being accepted in the top 40. The online application can be found on the program’s website.

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