Today small and large companies and individuals alike are awash in large amounts of data. This data can be extremely powerful if harnessed correctly, but also completely useless if no one knows what to do with it. The ability to manage, analyze, interpret and utilize data is an increasingly important skill that employers look for in new hires. This is one of the reasons the Institute for Data Exploration and Applications (IDEA) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute came into being. The purpose of the institute is to help students apply concepts learned in the classroom to real situations, and give them ideas and direction on where they can use their data science skills.
College Factual and IDEA recently hosted a Datathon on the RPI campus to encourage students to use data in creative and helpful ways. Students competed for cash prizes, awarded to the teams that came up with the best ideas. This is just one small we can participate in building up the data-leaders of tomorrow.
"There's no substitute for hands-on learning," says College Factual's head data scientist Tony Fischetti. "This project gives students a taste of what a career in data science entails."