December 15, 2021

Purdue’s Data Mine is making data science accessible for all

Purdue program looks to expand, support underrepresented students in data fields

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Thanks to personal devices and digital platforms, data is everywhere, and that is why a Purdue University management student is investing her time to learn more about the field of data science so she has an edge in the business world.

Sabrina Dopp is even accumulating real-world data science experience working with corporations involved in Purdue University’s The Data Mine program.

“Most people have to go find internships to get these experiences” said Dopp, a junior studying general management. “What I like about the Data Mine is it provides internship-level experience with an educational level of support.”

Mark Daniel Ward, director of The Data Mine and a professor of statistics, is enthusiastic about experiences like Dopp’s and is taking the benefits of the program to a larger level to reach more college students with The National Data Mine Network – a collaborative project between Purdue and the American Statistical Association.

Ward said the national network, like the initial program, will promote learning from data, using it as a tool to help solve problems in a data-driven society.

“We are excited that many students from different institutions will collaborate on cutting-edge research and industry experiences,” Ward said of the project.

The National Data Mine Network will enable undergraduate students at minority-serving institutions to learn data science with hands-on work in research or data science projects informed by industry partners.

The National Data Mine Network will directly fund 300 undergraduate students at a cross-section of minority-serving institutions with 100 research stipends per year.

The students will use high-performance computing to solve data-driven challenges that arise in every sector of industry, including biomedical engineering, health care engineering, image processing, manufacturing, supply chain management and transportation.

Co-principal investigators on the project are Kathy Ensor (Rice University), Monica Jackson (American University), Donna LaLonde (American Statistical Association) and Talitha Washington (Atlanta University Center Data Science Initiative). The project received three-year grant funding earlier this year from the National Science Foundation.

Ward said he expects the benefits to stretch beyond simply the students. Faculty at the participating institutions will gain insight into building their own data science courses and programs as well as expertise about how to carry out hands-on, data-intensive research projects.

Purdue answered the call for data science expertise in 2018-19 with The Data Mine – a fully immersive living and learning community for students, faculty, researchers and corporate partners alike. The learning community originated as a project in the Department of Statistics in the College of Science through a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation in 2014.

More than 800 students now collaborate and learn from each other in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap in data-infused innovation, including 300 undergraduate and graduate students in The Data Mine’s Corporate Partners program.

The National Data Mine Network isn’t the first expansion of The Data Mine. In April, a statewide expansion called the Indiana Data Mine was announced. Students involved with the Indiana Data Mine will learn data science skills through immersive engagement with Indiana-based companies, which will potentially lead to careers in the state and enhance Indiana’s surging tech sector.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last four years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at 

Writer, Media contact: Brian Huchel,

Source: Mark Daniel Ward,

Note to journalists: An image of The Data Mine is available via Google Drive. Journalists visiting campus should follow visitor health guidelines.

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