Microsoft's initiative to inspire the next generation of data scientists begins as a global challenge event. The Data Science Student Challenges, also called hackathons, have been supported at accredited universities across the world such as Columbia University, ENSAE ParisTech, Univeristy College London, Indian Institute of Science, National University of Singapore, and the University of Melbourne. During these events, undergrads and grad students with a variety of majors get to test their thinking against each other competitively for prizes.
The students are given a large dataset and through collaboration, each group presents a solution that gives the data a purpose. The solutions vary from local dynamics to global change.
These events are enlightening for not only those running them, but for the students as well. Getting hands on experience encountering data and creating solutions with a team of peers gives the students a clear impression on the impact that data science can have on the world. As Profesor John Shaw-Taylor from UCL explained:
“The key for a student to really understand and feel enthused about what they’re studying, [is that] they need to see how it is relevant to the real-world job they might end up with, and real-world experiences of people. What we need to do is not just teach them the theory of computer science, we need to show them how that theory is relevant and impacts on real-world problems.”
In addition to the challenges, the Microsoft Research's Data Science Summer School located in New York City is available for a group of undergraduates. Only a select few are accepted and have to meet a small list of qualifications such as being enrolled in the NYC-area for computer science and programming.
Microsoft has always found value in helping students make strides towards a brighter future. But it's not only students that have found use in Microsoft's tools. With the Azure in education program, educators are empowered to teach the latest in data sciences with access to course content.
Want to learn more about tools available to future data scientists? Visit the official Microsoft Research blog.