NSF - DUE: Collaborative Research: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Prepare Undergraduates for Data Science Using Real-World Data from High Frequency Monitoring Systems

Award Abstract #1915268

Award Amount: $266,405

Duration: October 2019 - September 2023

With support from the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education Program: Education and Human Resources (IUSE: EHR), this project aims to serve the national interest by improving undergraduate understanding of data science. It will accomplish this goal by incorporating data science concepts and skill development in undergraduate courses in biology, computer science, engineering, and environmental science. Through a collaboration between Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt University, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, the project will develop interdisciplinary learning modules based on high frequency, real-time data from water and traffic monitoring systems. The project intends to develop a common approach for introducing data science concepts in STEM disciplinary courses. By embedding data science into a variety of undergraduate STEM courses and creating a partnership that includes a Historically Black College/University, this project has the potential to broaden participation in data science, including participation of students from populations that are underrepresented in data science and/or STEM fields. This project will develop data science learning modules to implement in eight existing STEM courses at the collaborating institutions. The learning modules will be motivated by real-world problems and high-frequency datasets, including a water monitoring dataset from Virginia Tech, and transportation and building monitoring datasets from Vanderbilt. The learning module topics will include: Interdisciplinary Learning, Data Analytics, and Industry Partnerships. These topics will facilitate incorporation of real-world data sets to enhance the student learning experience and they are broad enough that they can incorporate other data sets in the future. The project aims to develop and implement an interdisciplinary collaborative approach to support undergraduate students in developing data science expertise through their disciplinary course work. Such expertise will better prepare students to enter the STEM workforce, especially those STEM professions that focus on smart and connected computing. The project will investigate how and in what ways the modules support student learning of data science. The project will also investigate how implementation of the modules varies across the collaborating institutions. It is expected that the project will define key considerations for integrating data science concepts into STEM courses and will host workshops to introduce faculty to these considerations and strategies so they can incorporate the learning modules into the STEM courses that they teach. The project collaborators will provide the framework for generalizing and transferring the learning modules to other STEM education communities, thus broadening the scope and the impact of this project beyond the three collaborating institutions. The NSF IUSE: EHR Program supports research and development projects to improve the effectiveness of STEM education for all students. Through the Engaged Student Learning track, the program supports the creation, exploration, and implementation of promising practices and tools. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

NSF - REU Site: Interdisciplinary Water Science and Engineering

Award Abstract #1659495

Award Amount: $439,436

Duration: March 2017 - February 2020

This three year renewal of a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site Program offers an interdisciplinary research experience to a diverse cohort of students on projects leading to sustainable management of water resources in an interdisciplinary environment. New features of this renewal program include an international component in India and collaboration of some of the REU scholars with VT RET Site participants. The Site will expand the pool of future researchers in water science who will address one of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges, provide access to clean water. VT will host 10 REU scholars over a 10-week summer program where they will be provided with a high-quality learning environment which: