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The ʻIke Wai Project was established as a UH Systemwide water sustainability research project funded by the National Science Foundation. The funds will support the development of a data science program at UH Hilo.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is in the process of creating a brand new data science program. Data science is a branch of science that deals with studying and analyzing sets of data through statistical measures and applying the process into a variety of fields of study. It is a versatile field because almost every branch of science collects loads of data—big data—and has processes for analyzing all of this information.

The program, which will start as a certificate program, is expected to commence in the fall semester of 2018, with hopes of eventually forming into a baccalaureate degree program. The data science certificate would be open to all students, regardless of major or background.

Travis Mandel

Grady Weyenberg

This summer, UH Hilo kicked off the program by hiring two new professors. Travis Mandel, assistant professor of computer science and Grady Weyenberg, assistant professor of mathematics, are collaborating with existing faculty to design new classes for the program. They will be joined in the near future by the others—experts in mathematics and the natural and social sciences.

When the certificate is established, there will be a total of six courses required. Students will take four new data science classes listed under computer science and mathematics and two additional courses will come from a list of applicable classes in the students’ current majors.

This program is funded through the National Science Foundation, as a part of the ʻIke Wai Project. ʻIke Wai was established as a UH Systemwide water sustainability research project. The funds allocated to UH Hilo are being used to form the data science program with the hope that data analysis will prove successful to better understand the groundwater systems in place on Hawaiʻi Island.

Right now there are huge amounts of information being collected but not studied. There are not enough people with the right background in data science so there is an infinite need for trained scientists in this field.
—Grady Weyenberg

“Data science is a new buzzword within the past few years that has come about with the explosion of the internet and social media,” says Weyenberg. “Right now there are huge amounts of information being collected but not studied. There are not enough people with the right background in data science so there is an infinite need for trained scientists in this field.”

Weyenberg recommends this program to any science majors planning on going to graduate school.

“The processes learned in these classes will be skills that are used very often in most graduate programs,” he says. “Students that go through this certificate program will have a leg up and experience that will benefit them in their future schooling.”

For more information on the data science program, go to UH Hilo Stories.

—A UH Hilo Stories article written by Jamie Josephson, a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor

This article is part of a series on curriculum and projects at UH Hilo focusing on sustainability. Read the previous stories:

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