The University Libraries at Virginia Tech is helping students develop skills to succeed in the fast-growing field of data science.
DataBridge, an undergraduate research program offered by the libraries, provides students the opportunity to gain real-world experiences in data science and hone their skills through helping graduate students and faculty with data challenges. The program hires students from across disciplines who are interested in working with data, trains them in data logic, and then pairs them with a client and project, where they act as consultants, project managers, problem-solvers, analysts, programmers, cleaners, collectors, and visualizers of data.
Through hands-on work on a variety of projects—such as helping design a database for elections data, creating data schemas, producing visualizations, and doing geospatial analysis—participants learn important lessons in critical thinking and writing, professionalism, rigor, and working with clients.
DataBridge’s location in the libraries, as part of their growing research and informatics consulting services, encourages collaboration across disciplines. “We have an open environment to talk about different kinds of concepts, and we focus on building partnerships across campus to solve data challenges,” said Jonathan Briganti, data systems programs specialist at Virginia Tech and DataBridge facilitator. “This works because the library isn’t connected to any one discipline. Students really like working in DataBridge because researchers from a variety of disciplines walk through the door, and students can work on a project that suits or expands their academic interests.”
To learn more about the DataBridge program, read the Virginia Tech Daily article, “University Libraries’ DataBridge Students Poised for Success in High-demand Data Professions.”