St. Lawrence University has received a $250,000 grant from the Fred L. Emerson Foundation in support of the University’s “Building Bright Futures in Data Science” project which will expand summer internship and research opportunities for St. Lawrence students in the rapidly growing field of data science, one of the University’s newest majors.
“I’m grateful for the Emerson Foundation’s generous support of the curious and dynamic nature of St. Lawrence students,” said St. Lawrence University President Kathryn A. Morris. “As one of our newest majors, students pursuing careers in the high-demand field of data science will now have even more opportunities to amplify their liberal arts education and gain a competitive edge in the workforce."
According to Charles A. Dana Professor of Statistics and Director of the Peterson Quantitative Resource Center Michael Schuckers and Director of Career Connections Geoff Falen, the leads on the project, the permanently restricted endowment fund from the Auburn, N.Y., based foundation will help students prepare for data science careers.
“The opportunities provided by this grant will allow [students] to put into practice what they are learning in the classroom, to gain valuable industry experience, and to pursue innovative research opportunities in concert with faculty,” said Schuckers. “All of these experiences will help SLU students demonstrate their interest, preparation, and experience in relevant ways to prospective employers in a variety of industries and/or graduate programs.”
“These experiences and opportunities are important for their growth as students as well as for their attractiveness to employers after graduation,” said Falen. “In particular, there are many non-profits that have needs for employees with these sorts of skills but who might not be able to pay an intern. This grant will allow students to have the chance to impact those organizations while building their resume.”
“As one of our newest majors, students pursuing careers in the high-demand field of data science will now have even more opportunities to amplify their liberal arts education and gain a competitive edge in the workforce." - St. Lawrence University President Kathryn A. Morris
Earlier this year, St. Lawrence created new bachelor’s degree programs in data science and finance. Highlights of the data science major include machine learning courses and the senior capstone experience where students will have the option to complete an independent Senior Year Experience, an approved internship or summer research fellowship, or embark on an Applied Data Science Seminar. Students will also have access to four computer-lab classrooms and two state-of-the-art high-performance computers.
In addition to the robust offerings housed in the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Statistics, as well as the resources provided by the Fox Center for Academic Achievement, Schuckers and Falen say the grant will also support a new model of integrated mentorship in which faculty and Career Connections staff mentor students collaboratively.
“The traditional model of faculty mentorship is that faculty advise students about classes and, perhaps, with research they are doing on campus,” said Schuckers and Falen. “The first aspect that we envision here is to have faculty more involved in the process of assisting students with the internship discovery process as Dr. Schuckers is with this grant. Second, for some projects faculty will be involved to various degrees in the student’s work during the internship or fellowship so that the potential exists for continued work on those projects when the student returns to campus. We are particularly thinking of capstone or senior year experiences that build upon an internship or fellowship."
Additional details regarding data science funding opportunities and existing student funding initiatives will be published later this semester and in Spring 2022. The inaugural funding will become available in Summer 2022.