The Data Science Club at Rice, officially known as Rice DataSci, held their first meeting of the spring semester Monday night. With standing room only, students crammed into Duncan Hall 1042 and heard about the latest news and upcoming events from club president Alex Hayes ’18 and Associate Professor of Statistics Genevera Allen, the club’s sponsor.
Club activities planned for the spring semester include workshops on R, data science hack nights, and a research showcase opportunity.
Hayes said the club started in 2017 out of a need for competition prep.
“A couple of students in my classes decided they wanted to organize teams to compete in data science competitions on Kaggle,” he said. That grew to organizing workshops and research seminars.
Hayes said one of the club’s goals is to help undergraduates learn about data science through hands-on projects and educational events.
“A lot of people are interested in data science,” Hayes said. “We want to make that clear to incoming students. I think a lot of people think that statistics is math, but in my mind they are fundamentally different. Statistics people are about generalizing and inferring. You see something in data and you want to know what it means about the world.”
Hayes said his interest in statistics was sparked by a Rice course. “I took a fantastic first class with Dr. Allen,” he said. “She had a data science competition on Netflix movie ratings, basically figuring out how a user might rate a specific movie.”
Hayes encouraged anyone wondering about data science to attend a club meeting or event.
“There is a lot of momentum right now,” he said. “We want to teach people how to play with data and be better for it, or at least make better decisions.”
Photo credit: Nick McMillan