The undergraduate experience is all about meeting new people and discovering new things. In order to do that, people have to get together (virtually these days.) Aditya Singhal, a double major in Psychology and Data science, spoke to the CDS social media team about how he discovered his interest in data science and how he decided to bring his fellow students together in the CDS undergrad Data Science Club.
The following has been edited for clarity.
CL: So how did you become interested in data science?
AS: I was a psychology major initially — I still am. I’m a double major. But I was just a psychology major my first two years. Then I took Intro to Data Science with Dr. Pascal Wallisch. And if you’ve spoken with him, you know that he’s good on stage. He’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. When I took advanced Psychology Statistics, which is a required course for the major, I became good friends with him.
He’s very quantitative. He told me during his office hours, “you should have a quantitative job you are meant for that kind of stuff.” And that they were thinking of starting a data science major and you should look at that next year. I had space for the major and after Intro to Data Science, I felt like this could be the thing that I want to pursue.
CL: And how did the undergrad Data Science Club come to be?
AS: Because CDS is a new department it doesn’t have things like an Honors Program yet. So as someone who’s going to graduate soon I wanted to accelerate my learning. And I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if I had a group of people who were just like me, who were also new data science majors, and we could work on things like Kaggle competitions together. And we would learn so much faster if we did this together.
So I started looking for Data Science clubs or people who would do Kaggle competitions and nothing came up. Later in a conversation with Professor Jones-Rooy; she said that a data science club would be a good idea. And I said, “You know what, I’m actually going to reach out to you and see if this can happen.”
I broadcasted to my friends and people who were in the new data science classes to broadcast it in their classes. And we got around 100 signups from majors, non-majors, people from different schools. And that was enough. So I gave that list to [The student affairs team] and in the proposal I said, “Okay, this will be a departmental club. I don’t even need it to be all University. I don’t need too much of a budget. I just want to be able to get people together.
CL: What sort of activities do you guys get up to in the club?
AS: what we’re planning now is a sort of guided competition Hackathon but a lower scale, one that lasts maybe a day sometime near the end of November. We will also have talks and invite speakers. A few of our board members are in Shanghai and they have a fantastic data science program. So we can leverage that connection by having speakers from Shanghai come talk to us.
CL: If other students are interested, how can they get involved.
AS: We have weekly meetings every two to three weeks at least. One of those meetings will be open to the general data science population. So graduates can come, of course, and people who haven’t declared a major yet can come. The next Open Meeting will be on November 6th at 2pm EST.
And the second thing would be offline asynchronously. We have the Slack channel which was just born yesterday. It is open to all. You can join it. It’s for anyone interested in data science.
For more information about the Data Science Club please check out our student groups page!