1st batch of 9 data science majors graduates this fall semester

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Approved by UC Berkeley in the spring of 2018, the interdisciplinary and widely popular data science major celebrated its first batch of nine graduates this fall semester.

The nine data science graduates are Jeevan Mokkala, Emanuel Lucban, Adam Osborn, Nikhil Krishnan, Thao Vo, Alexander Ivanoff, Liam Shi, Howe Cui and Ting Chih Lin. It appears, however, that many students will follow in their footsteps: This fall, when the major officially opened for students to declare, nearly 1,200 filed predeclarations.

“I hope you realize just how courageous you are,” said David Culler, interim dean of data sciences, of the graduates on the division’s website. “They are bold and brilliant students and they will figure (their prospects in data science) out.”

According to the Division of Data Sciences website, a task force was created in 2014 to respond to “surging” interests in data science education.

Over the next four years, students and faculty cooperated to form a growing data science program, which initially included a handful of core offerings and has since expanded to encompass more than 30 courses, a new major and two dozen “domain emphases,” or areas of specialization.

“This interdisciplinary major gives you real, serious scientific foundations,” said program lead Cathryn Carson on the website. “We’re just thrilled that we’ve been able to build this program to serve the students’ needs, and it’s exciting to launch a major that prepares students for jobs in the real world and for critical thinking as educated citizens.”

According to its website, over the summer, the Division of Data Sciences built an advising team to support increasing numbers of students. By the spring of 2019, another 100 data science students are projected to graduate.

Summer Data 8 instructor Vinitra Swamy said in an email that it is an “exciting” time to be a data scientist at UC Berkeley.

“Students vote with their enrollment, and the rapidly growing numbers in data science classes have shown a strong interest in the field,” Swamy said in the email. “The program puts a strong emphasis on diversity of opinion, interest, and experience and goes out of its way to make students feel included.”

Swamy added that the data science program provides students with the tools to think critically about the world.

Data science graduate Mokkala said he really enjoyed the data science major, found the concepts interesting and characterized the major as “in great shape.” Mokkala said data science offered a new method of thinking that can be applied to future problems.

“I’m just glad the major came out in time. It’s something I’ve been interested in for a while, but was never sure I could major in,” Mokkala said in a Facebook message. “When it was released and all the courses matched what I had already taken, it felt like everything finally paid off.”

Contact Stanley von Ehrenstein-Smith [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @von_ehrenstein.