In this next week, students, faculty, and representatives from Houghton College’s Center for Data Science Analytics (CDSA) will be leaving campus to travel to Estes Park, Colorado, to participate in an exclusive conference called Tapestry. Barbara Spaulding (’17, psychology major and communication/recreation minor), Bjorn Webb (’18, business administration and accounting major, data science minor), Madison Murphy (Professor of Media Arts and Visual Communication at Houghton), Carmen McKell (Founding Director of the CDSA at Houghton), Garfield Fisher (CEO of BaseMetrics, and Corporate Relations for the CDSA), and Collin Belt (CEO of IceNine Studios, and Video Production for the CDSA) will be heading to Colorado for this invitation-only event to be held on March 9 in order to meet and work with industry leaders in the fields of data science, data visualization, and data journalism. This is not only an exciting opportunity for these data storytellers, but also represents an opportunity for the CDSA to establish itself as a premier center for those interested in data science.

The CDSA team was invited by Trina Chiasson, a senior project manager with the conference’s host Tableau Software, after she demonstrated Tableau’s new flagship application “Vizable” to a team of Houghton students in early February. These students, which included Bjorn Webb, met Trina and several others while in the California Bay Area for a project on data visualization with NFL On Location Experiences, Super Bowl 50. The team was able to work with and experience data through “Vizable”, and Bjorn will be able to pick right back up where he left off in February to gain a more thorough understanding of his studies in data science, visualization, and storytelling. For Barbara, this will be her first hands-on experience with data science, and she will take what she learns at Tapestry to apply it back to a student-led data science consulting project that she and eight other Houghton students are currently working on. Not only will she learn immensely from the experience, but she will be able to network with leaders in the field of data storytelling and invite them to participate in future Houghton data science consulting projects.

While at Tapestry, the group from the CDSA will hear presentations from a number of industry leaders, be involved in discussions, and experience a science-fair-esque demonstration showcase. These brilliant hands-on experiences not only expose these CDSA team members to the booming data science field, but also uniquely gets them involved in a way that would have been impossible without Tableau’s invitation.

Tableau Software is a world leader in data science and data visualization, and having students with the opportunity to not only once but twice be invited to Tableau events and meet and network with those at Tableau creates amazing potential for internships and career opportunities in one of the fastest growing fields. The CDSA’s involvement at Tapestry marks a tipping point for the data science program at Houghton. Having only been approved as a major in the last month, students involved in data science will now have been included in two major firsthand data science experiences, have been able to meet with leading data storytellers, and be able to contribute to this community. The connections and friendships made at this conference will not only help our CDSA students understand how to analyze, visualize, and communicate analytics to a wide audience, but it will also create lasting relationships for all data science students at Houghton College.