Dr. Martin Coe will join Augustana College as the inaugural Robert A. Hanson Endowed Chair in Data Analytics. The position is funded in part by an exclusive grant from Deere & Company to hire a faculty chair for a data analytics major and minor.
“I look forward to joining Augustana and working with colleagues to develop a cutting-edge multi-disciplinary data analytics program, with the aim of building the next generation of data scientists and data-enabled professionals,” said Dr. Coe.
The college will establish two tracks for data analytics: applied data analytics (using analytics to extract insights from data) within the college’s existing accounting and business areas, and data science (drawing upon data inference, algorithm building, and systems to gain insights) within the math/computer science areas. There will be close ties between the two areas.
Augustana College President Steven C. Bahls described Dr. Coe as a seasoned teacher-scholar.
“This is a tremendous win for Augustana, to find such a distinguished professor to help advance our new data analytics program,” he said. “Data analytics is a perfect match for Augustana College because it entails critical thinking — interrogating databases and asking about the ethical use of data.”
With the steady march toward more automation, there is a need for people who can think critically about data, ethically analyze it and think creatively about its applications. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 30% growth in data analytics employment by 2024. Deere & Company has shared that it will be hiring as many data analysts as engineers, and will need the critical thinking and communication skills that a liberal arts education provides.
Augustana’s curriculum is built on a foundation of educational requirements that make this field of study a natural fit for its students. Students in all majors master the art and science of asking the right questions, finding patterns, collaborating, communicating well, connecting disparate ideas, and addressing ethical concerns and issues.
The college will begin offering a data analytics minor for the 2019-20 academic year and a major the following year. Augustana anticipates having about 30 students graduate in the major each year
Over the last 10 years, Augustana has established a record of academic program innovation and creation. The college added creative writing, engineering physics, graphic design, multimedia journalism and mass communication, neuroscience, public health, and the Upper Mississippi Center for Sustainable Communities. These are all highly subscribed programs created in response to student interest, workplace demands and market needs. Augustana will be part of a small group of liberal arts colleges at the vanguard of offering an undergraduate degree in data analytics.