Data policy program boosts high school students

This spring, more than 100 underserved high schoolers in New York, Florida and Michigan participated in an expanded online data policy and analysis program, in which they explored pressing policy issues such as income inequality, racial justice and climate change through economic and sociological lenses.

The program – developed by eCornell, the School of Continuing Education (SCE) and the nonprofit National Education Equity Lab (NEEL) – was led by Maria Fitzpatrick and Matthew Hall, both professors in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management, in the College of Human Ecology. In examining important issues – including education equity and COVID-19 – students sought to determine how big data is being used to address policy problems in the United States and across the globe.

Students had the opportunity to learn directly from Cornell faculty via virtual office hours, lab sessions and one-on-one facetime.

“Maria Fitzpatrick and Matthew Hall have been forces of nature in providing transformational opportunities to students who need it most,” said Leslie Cornfeld, NEEL’s founder and CEO.

During a closing ceremony May 26, Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff praised the high school scholars for their achievements, saying he was proud of Cornell’s leadership in this effort with the Equity Lab as it reflects Cornell’s commitment to equity, access and opportunity.

Fitzpatrick called the program “one of the best teaching experiences of my career.”

Last summer, eCornell and NEEL piloted a high school program with Donna Haeger, professor of practice in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, based on Haeger’s popular on-campus spreadsheet modeling courses. To expand the collaboration, this spring eCornell and SCE worked with NEEL to offer a three-credit online undergraduate course, Big Data for Big Policy Problems (PAM 270).

Many of the 16 schools participating in the high school program signed on to provide supervising teachers, who coached and helped all students with time management. NEEL provided a Chromebook to any student without access to a laptop.

“Cornell University’s leadership is a national model for what selective universities can accomplish in the education justice space,” Cornfeld said.

“With this expansion, Cornell has powerfully demonstrated their commitment to racial and economic justice. They’re not just talking the talk. That commitment should make current and future students, as well as alumni, proud of their alma mater.”

One such future student is Melanie Lantigua, a high school student from the Bronx who successfully completed the course and will be attending Cornell this fall as a first-generation student.

“I hope Cornell continues to offer opportunities like this to scholars in underserved high schools across the nation,” Lantigua said during the ceremony. “We need opportunities like this to show colleges – and ourselves – what we can do.”

Jamie Bonan ’18 is a content marketing specialist at eCornell.

Master data science programming in R with new certificate program

In a world run by data, the demand for this skill has never been higher. Data analytics is essential to almost every facet of decision-making across any organization. Glassdoor recently named it the #1 job in America, and in the top 3 must-have skills. Cornell’s new certificate program, Data Analytics in R, is designed to help take a fundamental understanding of analytics to a mastery of programming in R.

Ideal for any professional looking to scale their skills and knowledge, this program will teach techniques for understanding, modeling and visualizing data using R, including predictive and prescriptive analytics, machine learning, the Monte Carlo simulation and optimization methods for making both small and large scale decisions.

“The world has really progressed when it comes to data analytics. Today it is being used across all organizations and verticals, be it financial services or consumer goods or travel, to enable informed decisions on a daily basis,” said Chris Anderson, faculty author and Professor at the School of Hotel Administration within Cornell’s SC Johnson College of Business. “We’re now at a place where these are critical skills for people who want to set themselves apart.”

The program consists of three three-week courses:

  • Predictive Analytics in R
  • Clustering, Classification, and Machine Learning in R
  • Prescriptive Analytics in R

Upon completion, participants will receive a Data Analytics in R certificate from Cornell University. Learn more about this program by visiting the eCornell website.