Westmont Magazine Equipping Students to Study Big Data
The New Data Analytics Major Meets a Critical Need in the Workplace for People Who Can Interpret Complex Data
Westmont students can now earn a bachelor’s degree in data analytics, a new and fast-growing way of understanding the world and gaining insights. Corporations and policy makers in many industries and fields hire data analysts to study and accurately communicate the salient features of big data. Professors in the mathematics, computer science, and economics and business departments collaborated to create the interdisciplinary major.
“It’s increasingly important for graduates to augment economic and mathematical knowledge for careers in data analytics,” says Don Patterson, associate professor of computer science. “Theories and techniques from computer science that have been developed to manipulate and derive meaning from massive data sets are now equally critical.”
“Data is changing the way that decisions are being made,” says Ray Rosentrater, professor of mathematics. “The ability to apply mathematical techniques and understanding to large sets of data is becoming ever more important. As a liberal arts college, Westmont’s commitment to cross disciplinary study provides a strong philosophical home for a major built on multiple perspectives. Moreover, by placing a data analytics program in the context of a liberal arts institution, the graduates will be equipped to apply their skills with a more humanistic perspective.”
The new major draws from critical components of mathematics, economics and business, and computer science to study the ways large data sets may be used to inform decision making. The curriculum begins with a foundation in calculus, statistics, research and forecasting, microeconomics or accounting, computational problems and concrete systems, and then moves into classes on database design, machine learning, management science and game theory.