SACS student Brittany City inspires students at Meharry Data Science Summer Academy

Brittany City - Intro to Data Science

Personal stories are impactful to high school students. Especially when they are shared by adults from similar backgrounds.

The Meharry Data Science Summer Academy, held by the School of Applied Computational Sciences, introduced 17 high school students, mostly from underrepresented backgrounds, to applying coding and data science to robotics. On July 26, Brittany City, an M.S. Data Science student, gave an engaging presentation about her passion for data science to those students.

City, who is a lead data analyst in product data science at HP, shared how her interests in a medical career changed to data science after working in genetics research.

“The work was very computational and I met a lot of data scientists and statisticians. I saw it as a great career opportunity and liked the flexibility of being able to work at home,” says City. “I started with a data science boot camp at the Nashville Software School and was on my way.”

City’s interactive discussion explained data science in a relatable way for the high school audience. She explained how many industries use data science and how concepts like machine learning are part of the everyday consumer experience.

“Companies like Zara use machine learning to identify customer purchasing tends. Apple’s Siri, and the way it learns to interact with users, is another great example,” says City.

A brief, hands-on project introduced the students to predictive analytics. The students provided data by measuring their height and hand size and then used a linear regression formula to correctly predict the hand size of an adult participant.

“This linear regression formula is the same equation analysts use to predict house prices,” says City, demonstrating the practical use of the lesson and data science overall.

What made City’s participation most interesting is that a Nashville Technology Council board member recommended her as a speaker.

NASA partner image

The program is  funded by NASA through the Minority University Research and Education project and provided to students at no cost. The NASA grant award included the greater Nashville Technology Council (NTC) as a regional data science industry partner.  NTC’s role included selecting a data science professional from the Nashville industry to speak about career opportunities.

“We were thrilled to hear that one of NTC recommended Brittany,” says Todd Gary, director of external research and development partnerships and a co-principal investigator for the program. “That certainly speaks highly of her and the caliber of students within Meharry’s data science program.”

It was an opportunity that was not only meaninful for City, but very important to the program participants.

“You are all in a great position to be in this program and get this exposure,” says City. “I did not have the same opportunities growing up. Now, I spend a lot of my free time now exposing others to analytics and data.”

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