Physics majors have theories. Philosophy majors have questions. And data analytics majors? Data analytics majors have answers.
It is that aspect that Ohio State sophomore Paulina Kamburowski finds rewarding about Ohio State’s groundbreaking undergraduate data analytics major. “I love that when you’re given a project or problem, you can spend hours in the lab, looking at the data—and then suddenly you’ll get the answer,” she says.
While the study and analysis of data is not a new endeavor, undergraduate education in the field is often just a component within assorted unrelated programs in different disciplines. In the workforce, however, the demand for college graduates with data analytics experience is skyrocketing; the 2015 Harvey Nash CIO Survey found the demand for big data analytic skills has grown to nearly six times that of the second most-sought-after skill.
To meet this increasing demand, Ohio State created the country’s first-ever undergraduate degree program in data analytics in 2014. Now, students like Kamburowski and her fellow data analytics majors are pursuing a uniquely interdisciplinary degree with specializations in biomedical informatics, business analytics, or computational analytics.
The major draws students from diverse backgrounds. Kamburowski started as a student with a particular interest in bio-math studies. With a logically inclined mind, she found herself drawn to the opportunity to explore data analytics and shifted to the new major, where she has developed a keen interest in bioinformatics.
Another student in the program, Peter Jacobs, was originally a psychology major but became interested in data studies when a professor introduced the idea that computers could perform some cognitive tasks better than humans.
Jacobs, who will graduate with his data analytics B.S. in spring 2017, points out that the range of career options for his major is expansive. As a sports fan, he highlights some of the applications in baseball, basketball, hockey, football, and other sports. “You can mine data about teams and make sense of the information for game strategy,” he says. “That information can be used to guide and advise coaches in making decisions.” For those interested in games of chance, Jacobs adds, “You can also use data analytics in fantasy leagues. The web is a massive source of sports data, and a player skilled in analytics techniques could potentially use this information to their advantage.”
From medicine to sports strategies, Ohio State’s data analytics major is connecting tomorrow’s workforce with the vast possibilities that await them.