The Academy of Data Science, part of the Virginia Tech College of Science, and the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) are launching a series of virtual events to showcase the impact of data science in the modern era and explore “the reality and future of data science.”

Oliver Schabenberger, chief innovation officer at SingleStore Inc., will be keynote speaker for the inaugural event, From Data Literacy to People-Literate Technology: The Reality and Future of Data Science, at 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 20. Schabenberger will discuss the reality, as well as the hype, of how companies and institutions are rapidly attempting to transform into data-driven organizations.

Schabenberger earned his master’s in statistics from Virginia Tech and later become chief operating officer and chief technology officer of SAS Institute, a pioneering analytics company based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“The NVTC and the Academy of Data Science share an interest in applying insights derived from data science explorations to today’s challenges to benefit industries, communities, and the world at large,” said Ronald D. Fricker, interim dean of the College of Science and a professor in the Department of Statistics. “It’s important that together we work to demonstrate the impact of data science, and how it leads to better decisions that can improve peoples’ lives.”

Jennifer Taylor, president and CEO of NVTC said, “Due to the pandemic, there has been an exponential shift for businesses to modernize and work smarter by leveraging data analytics and digital technology to drive efficiencies and stay competitive. We’re thrilled to partner with Virginia Tech’s Academy of Data Science to bring data science pioneers from our region to engage in a critically important dialogue for our greater technology community.”

Tom Woteki, founding director of the Academy of Data Science, said that the series meshes with the academy’s mission to be a catalyst to bring together data science work across research themes.

“We have mounds of data, that is not the issue,” Woteki said. “What we need to do is develop a pipeline of talented data scientists who can leverage methods to better understand what drives government, commercial, academic, and societal issues. If we can analyze the information we have we could dramatically improve peoples’ lives.”

With this lecture series, Virginia Tech and the NVTC will showcase the impact of data science and how it is changing the way business and science are being conducted, serves as the basis of government policy, and shapes our world.

Launched in 2020, the Academy of Data Science was established to be a collaborative hub to connect data science work throughout the college, across the university, and with government agencies, and private enterprise.

Following Schabenberger’s presentation, a panel of experts will engage the speaker with comments and questions from the audience. Schabenberger is a two-time Virginia Tech alumnus, earning his master’s in statistics in 1994 and a Ph.D. in forest resources and environmental conservation from the Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources and Environment in 1995. He also served as a tenured faculty member in the Department of Statistics before leaving for SAS.

The panel will be moderated by Jennifer Van Mullekom, an associate professor of practice of statistics and director of Virginia Tech’s Statistical Applications and Innovations Group. Following the panel discussion, NVTC will host a networking session in which attendees can informally discuss data science work with each other, the panel, and the speaker.

Attendees may to register for the April 20 event on the NVTC website.

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