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F&M Data Science Major Debuts in Fall

Purchasing fruits, vegetables and other foods a restaurant needs daily sounds simple enough,  but determining the necessary amounts at the best price to avoid waste is more complex.

Applying data science to the task makes the purchasing easier and more efficient, Associate Professor of Computer Science Ed Novak says. 

“You can look at the historic purchasing and sales of all the items; you can look at the ingredients on the various recipes; you can look at what’s on sale. Then you can put it all together and make a really, really data-informed decision about what to buy for the next month,” he says. 

This fall, Franklin & Marshall College will offer as a major data science, which encompasses a  range of fields, in the sciences and beyond, that are studied in the liberal arts. In the 21st century, data science is applicable in practically everything, from business and government to health care and transportation. 

The broad combination of skills related to data science offer an inherently interdisciplinary liberal arts major featuring courses from each of the college divisions at F&M. The program examines the nature of knowledge; provides broader critique or historical context on the use of information; addresses ethical questions that impinge on data science; and utilizes as well as critiques data to investigate disciplinary questions.

F&M's data science program offers both a full major, as well as a joint major that grounds data science in another discipline. 

As department chair, Novak says a student, depending on their course of study, could graduate with a data science degree in the spring because the major consists almost entirely of existing courses in computer science, mathematics, statistics and electives.

“Hypothetically, a student who took those courses, then completed the new course required for the major, Data Science 175, could graduate with the degree in spring 2024,” he says.

Data science is considered an in-demand skill today, Novak says.

“We think it’s very marketable for students after they graduate and go into the job market,” he says. “It has a beautiful element to it that connects it to all sorts of fields. It’s cutting edge.”

Learn more about the new data science major

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