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Data science makes it a summer to remember for dozens of students

Mirian Vargas, Program Management Intern

Sep 9, 2021

Some of the brightest young minds in the Milwaukee region made data science their must-do activity this summer. In partnership with the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute (NMDSI), UW-Milwaukee’s College for Kids & Teens program gave students in grades 6-12 an opportunity to earn a Data Science Certificate. Volunteers from Northwestern Mutual were instrumental in making the 2021 program a summer to remember for the participants.

Northwestern Mutual Data Scientist Heather Klussendorf and Senior Data Scientist Rachel Perlin volunteered as curriculum consultants in two of the three core certificate courses. They gave students a glimpse into a day in the life of data scientists and a demo of what data science looks like in action. “It was wonderful seeing young high school students with a sense of curiosity and eagerness to learn more about data science,” said Perlin. She goes on to say, “I wish I had this program in high school!”


The Data Science Certificate curriculum was designed so that students could make progress toward completion over several summers. In order to earn the certificate, students must complete all three core classes offered every summer and two elective courses. The three core courses were Introduction to Data Science, Probability & Statistics, and Entrepreneurial Data Science. To encourage students to follow their curiosity, a total of 16 elective courses were available to choose from including statistics and Python programming.

While College for Kids & Teens has been around for over 40 years, the Data Science Certificate is only in its second year but UW-Milwaukee College for Kids & Teens Director Ben LaDuke already considers it a great success. In summer of 2020, only one student earned a Data Science Certificate. This year, seven students received the Data Science Certificate. The NMDSI joins UWM in celebrating this achievement with big shout-outs to Alex Blackwood, Smeeth Dalal, Eric Hannah, Veronica Laster, Summer Mahmoud, Chase Nickel, and Michael Odya!

“The instructors did an amazing job with these courses in another challenging year. The classes were engaging and creative in their approach. We are also very appreciative of the Data Scientists that gave their time to assist us to create and offer these great classes. Pat is a retired Data Scientist. He devoted several weeks of his time to course development and teaching. Heather Klussendorf, Rachel Perlin, and Mirian Vargas (Volunteer Coordinator from Northwestern Mutual) were all instrumental to this year's success. Their insights and knowledge were key to the growth of the program this year,” said LaDuke.

"Milwaukee is filled with talented young people. UWM C4KT provides an opportunity for students to unlock their potential. It's exciting to see students empowered by these types of experiences,” said Klussendorf.

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