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Published October 23, 2019
University of Wyoming computer science Assistant Professor Lars Kotthoff recently organized an intensive, three-day introduction to data science and machine learning workshop at the UW Conference Center. The event was designed to provide UW and the wider community with technical skills that are increasingly in demand in many sciences and industry.
Kotthoff organized the event as a means to help close the gap between the rising demand of machine-learning expertise and the lack of individuals who possess these skills needed for economic development.
“Data science and machine learning are used in more and more applications every day,” Kotthoff says. “People with the necessary skills to implement them are scarce but are also in high demand, so we wanted to create an event right here in Wyoming to help address that.”
The event attracted almost 70 participants from different departments at UW, local businesses and individuals from around the region. They learned about state-of-the-art techniques and tools to apply data science and machine learning to practical problems and leverage powerful approaches to build and optimize predictive models, make sense of data and ensure the quality of data science projects.
Presenters for the workshops included four world-renowned experts in machine learning from Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich, Germany: Bernd Bischl, Martin Binder, Stefan Coors and Julia Moosbauer. The course was led by Bischl, who used the award-winning Machine Learning in R (mlr) machine learning package for the hands-on sessions.
Kotthoff was approached by several attendees who commended UW’s ability to host a comprehensive course in the high-demand field.
“We received a lot of very positive feedback, and many people were deeply grateful for the opportunity to participate,” Kotthoff says. “We even had a technology worker from Wyoming remark that opportunities, like this event, could lead to more economic development within the state.”
UW has been increasing its commitment to teaching such skills in recent years to help attract high-tech businesses to Wyoming and diversify its economic activities. Additionally, the National Science Foundation recently awarded UW a separate $1 million grant to support the inclusion of computer science education in Wyoming schools and libraries.
The workshop was supported by the UW Data Science Center, the College of Engineering and Applied Science, and the UW Office of Research and Economic Development.