Our vision is to create a model Data Science and Analytics program for colleges and universities in Arkansas to promote problem-based, and experiential-based pedagogy in critical thinking and analysis, technology familiarity, and foundation in math and statistics. This will form the basis of an educational ecosystem where learners receive a designed, consistent, sequenced, scaffolded, and modular education in data science with further educational and/or job opportunities available at appropriate points in their careers.

DART will foster the establishment of a Statewide Data Science Educational Ecosystem by:

  • Developing a combination of model programs, degrees, pedagogy, and curriculum including a 9- week middle school coding block; a technical certificate, certificate of proficiency, and associate of science in data science; and a Bachelor of Science in data science with minors or concentrations.
  • Providing resources and training for educators including $5,000 Seed Grants for project-related Education & Broadening Participation; Career Development Workshops for project participants and educators; and K12 teacher professional development on data science topics.
  • Providing educational opportunities inside and outside the classroom for students. Undergraduate and graduate research assistantships in DART labs will be funded along with intensive data science and computing summer camps for undergraduates and research-based capstone projects and internships with industry partners.
  • Ensuring broad participation to impact the pipeline of data science skilled workers through Summer Undergrad Research Experiences in DART labs for underserved students, scholarships for underserved students to the ASRI; and by connecting students to opportunities through the ACDS.

Advancing the State of the Knowledge

Programs in data science are not currently offered at most Arkansas IHEs. On the other hand, courses and programs in computer science and statistics are widely available across a spectrum of institutions. Through this project we expect to ensure that all collaborating IHEs will gain a better understanding of the nature of data science and the appropriate educational resources that such programs require. When the project is complete data science programs will be widespread across the state and will be available to all interested Arkansans.

Broader Societal Impacts

Integrating data science research across the State and creating a deep and diverse data-ready workforce will pay immediate dividends in the form of increased federal grant funding, increased industrial research funding, and increased employment of well-paying jobs. As the State better aligns its investments with industry strengths and needs, more opportunities to improve the quality of life in Arkansas and steadily increase educational attainment and wages will develop. The HDR Big Idea recognizes that efforts in developing data cyber-infrastructure, education programs, and a deep workforce are most effective when linked to relevant data science research.