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An R.K. Mellon Foundation award will help Pitt train Pennsylvania workers in responsible data science

  • Technology & Science
  • Community Impact
  • Provost

The University of Pittsburgh received $235,000 from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to fund the creation of a diverse and networked workforce throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Designed to transform career paths by providing relevant, practical applications and accessible, impactful content certifications, Responsible Data Science@Pitt will build an innovative, coordinated set of professional training programs in responsible data science — using a synthesis of insights from both data and people to improve lives and communities at every scale.

“We are so grateful to the Richard King Mellon Foundation for sharing and so generously supporting Pitt’s vision for this project,” said Interim Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Joseph McCarthy. “In the time ahead, I feel certain that Responsible Data Science@Pitt will have transformative short-, intermediate- and long-term benefits for individuals, industries and the region as a whole.”

Housed within the Office of the Provost and leveraging institutional and leadership resources across the University, Responsible Data Science@Pitt will work to ensure innovation in data management and computation will support, include and welcome marginalized individuals and communities.

[Read more about how Pitt is making data science accessible.]

Responsible Data Science@Pitt is led by Michael Colaresi, associate vice provost for data science, and Stephen Wisniewski, vice provost for budget and analytics. The initiative is also developing an external advisory board featuring representatives from major industries across Southwestern Pennsylvania; Andrew Hannah, a vital partner in the initiative’s development, will serve as the board’s chair.

Key to the project’s objective is addressing a critical need for pathways to ensure workers in Southwestern Pennsylvania are job-ready as potential employers look to create science and technology opportunities in the region. “A recent Rand study found that Southwestern Pennsylvania currently does not have a sufficiently accessible, relevant, agile and impactful training infrastructure to produce the needed skilled workers,” Wisniewski observed. “We need to close gaps between workers’ needs for relevant data science training in the region and the academic resources that are often abstract and less accessible.”

Through Responsible Data Science@Pitt, online programs will provide relevant tools and training to workers in Southwestern Pennsylvania who do not have a bachelor’s degree or who received a BA in a non-STEM field. Workers will learn responsible data science and management practices in industries that cover 80% of the top 20 employers — retail and marketing, banking and finance, government and the nonprofit sector, manufacturing and supply chain operations and public health — in Allegheny, Westmoreland, Washington, Butler, Beaver and Cambria counties.

"We are extremely excited to partner with the R.K. Mellon Foundation to bring relevant, affordable and accessible data science training to Southwestern Pennsylvania workers. The accelerating use of data and algorithms continues to transform jobs across industries such as health, manufacturing, banking and retail, all of which are pivotal to our economic future,” said Colaresi. “Our new initiative and its training programs will prepare workers to take the next steps in their careers and attract innovative employers across Southwestern Pennsylvania."