Baylor hosts Southwest Data Science Conference for second time since COVID-19

Baylor University hosts the second-ever Southwest Data conference where students present their research findings. Stephy Mahoney | Staff Writer

By Stephy Mahoney | Staff Writer

Baylor hosted the Southwest Data Science Conference Friday for the second time since COVID-19 with 24 college representatives and over 100 students presenting their findings.

According to the website where all submissions are collected, the Southwest Data Science Conference 2023 invites submissions of papers or abstracts consisting of new, unpublished work, reporting advances in data science and its intersections with other fields.

The Southwest Data Science Conference provides an international forum for the presentation of original research results in different data science domains, as well as the dissemination and exchange of novel data handling and methodology experiences.

“[Students] either examine available data or sometimes they collect their own data and use and analyze different data science tools and techniques and try to extract information,” Erdogan Dogdu, computer science department chair at Angelo State University, said.

The conference website defines data science as reshaping different academic and industry fields, which is playing an increasingly important role in almost all domains.

Dogdu said the hours of work put into these projects were used to further each other’s education and present their research related to data science.

“Some of them are working with data sets from student data or some airline data, really any domain area they choose to collect data,” Dodgu said. “There is one this year about NFL salaries; there are so many open data sets out there, so these students try to solve or come up with logical findings from these research areas.”

Candace Ditsch, office manager for computer science at Baylor, said the projects are used as part of a data science course at the university. Students are required to do a project with a partner and create a poster of their findings. Guests can also submit findings to be shown.

“Some speakers are students and some are faculty,” Ditsch said. “We’ve had a lot of online guests who are not able to be here, one of them I believe is from Dartmouth. There are 35 presentations and one remote presentation is from Finland.”

Ditsch said McCollum Endowed Chair of Data Science Dr. Henry Han, senior lecturer Dr. Matthew Fendt, Associate Professor and Interim Chair Greg Hamerly, Director of Technology & Facilities Patrick Hynan, as well as herself, have been meeting for the past five months to coordinate this event and make everything run as smooth as possible.

She also said they have students from around the world who attend and participate in this conference ranging everywhere from Stephen F. Austin, The University of Texas at Austin, University of Alabama, University of Houston, Southern Methodist University and across the globe like Xidian University in China and more.

“We have over a 100 people that are registered in person and I would say 15 of those are from other universities. It’s truly amazing,” Ditsch said.

Ditsch said this year, they had five graduates and 13 undergraduates volunteer to help with setting up the venue, food, registration and other tasks. She said the added support from Baylor members and the community, is great for events like these.