Published: Sept. 15, 2023

Bradley Warner, Director of Data Science Program, US Air Force Academy

Data Science Education: A Journey of Creation and Implementation    

In the increasingly data-driven landscape of decision-making, the demand for skilled data scientists is on the rise. Therefore, the development and execution of data science education programs have become essential. This presentation provides a comprehensive overview of the United States Air Force Academy's (USAFA) journey to establish a data science program.

The USAFA Data Science Program introduced a transformational change by infusing a data-centric approach into calculus, reshaping introductory statistics, and creating a data science major. This presentation focuses on the challenges encountered in creating the major, the foundational components of the curriculum, and the tangible outcomes achieved to date. It specifically highlights examples that challenge the perception of data science as a new discipline. Additionally, it explores how the use of computational tools empowers a diverse student body to engage with the major. Importantly, this talk provides convincing evidence that demonstrates that the major's growth has not come at the expense of other STEM fields such as Applied Mathematics and Operations Research. Instead, it showcases the coexistence and mutual flourishing of diverse disciplines.

The presentation concludes by looking to the future, forecasting the influence of generative AI, streaming data, and cloud computing on the landscape of data science education. The story stands as a testament to resilience, adaptability, and innovation in contemporary data science education.