Data Science CoLab: Connecting Communities Across HHS
If you've often wondered how to improve processes and analyze large amounts of information, data science could be for you. Industry recognizes data science, the art of using programming and mathematical statistics to solve problems, as an effective way to generate decision-making evidence.
Across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), working groups already share methods to find patterns in data. However, there exists no cross-agency initiative to connect these teams, add to employee skillsets, and attract newcomers to the field. By sponsoring two pilot rounds of the HHS Data Science CoLab, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA),The Office of Business Management and Transformation (OBMT) and the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) will bring these highly desired, transferrable skills to the HHS community. The first pilot round of the Data Science CoLab kicks off this October.
What is CoLab?
CoLab is a problem-solving laboratory experience housed in BARDA's Visualization Hub (located in the Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. Federal Building). Over the course of two-months, participants will commit sixteen hours per week to applying transferable data science techniques, which include:
- Data wrangling: Mapping large amounts data on an automated scale into a more easily readable format.
- Predictive analytics: Gathering data across the public internet and internal servers to calculate probabilities of certain events occurring.
- Visualization: Displaying data in a 3D or 2D file format that allows viewers to easily infer results.
- Machine learning: Teaching computer servers to use previous results from data to inform future computer-led tasks, often in the form of algorithms rather than explicit code.
CoLab will cater to participants with varying knowledge of data science concepts, and features a flexible curriculum to allow more advanced participants to join CoLab during intermediate-level lectures. For participants to get the most value out of the CoLab they should come to the program with an idea of a data science project they would like to solve or make significant progress on within the two-month program. A certain level of technical skill is expected as all participants should have at least some indirect experience with data science skills (e.g. taking a statistics class in college). However, you don't need any programming experience to apply for CoLab. With the guidance of industry-leading experts, participants will complete objective-based projects that will improve their skillsets and communities. The benefits of participating in the Data Science CoLab include:
- Developing New Skillsets: Participants will gain confidence in using data science to independently improve their own work, lead projects, and problem-solve.
- Gaining Practical Solutions: All participants will work on a Capstone Project, which aims to optimize a task within the participant's agency using data science.
- Reducing Error: CoLab trains participants to use data science techniques to guide decision-making. By the end of the CoLab, all participants will be able to spot error before it happens, allowing more time to think creatively.
- Creating Community: The formation of an alumni community will facilitate data science collaboration and learning across agencies at HHS. In addition, by creating a support network across all agencies, CoLab will encourage CoLab alumni to go public with their ideas and contribute open-source ideals to department culture.
CoLab is designed to attract innovative personnel across all HHS agencies; BARDA, OBMT and the Office of the CTO encourage anyone interested to apply for the second round of CoLab, tentatively scheduled for January 2018. To learn more about the CoLab, please visit, https://hhs.gov/cto/initiatives/data-science-colab/index.html. If you are interested in participating in the Winter CoLab session, please contact Will Yang ([email protected]).