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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
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SMU and AT&T to Host STEM Boot Camp


Nine SMU students are working with corporate mentors as AT&T Data Science Scholars. | Image by SMU

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AT&T and SMU have teamed up to host a boot camp that will give undergraduate and graduate students a chance to participate in overlapping training and internships.

For over a year, SMU and AT&T have worked to bring the camp to fruition. According to Peter Moore, SMU associate provost for curricular innovation and policy, the university saw a great need for more data scientists. The industry expects a 22% increase in STEM positions over the next decade. 

“This partnership is something that more businesses within DFW are going to take a look at because there’s just not enough data scientists coming out of universities at the moment,” Moore said.

For the first half of the summer program, students will spend time in an SMU classroom led by Bivin Sadler, a technical assistant professor and course lead faculty member for SMU’s online master of science, data science program. During the last half of the program, students will go onsite at AT&T offices to work in teams alongside AT&T mentors for problem-solving activities. 

The diverse group of nine students will join the STEM industry, where historically, there has been an unbalanced representation of black, Hispanic, and female workers. 

Only 8% of all STEM employees are Hispanic, despite making up 17% of the total workforce across all occupations. In line with their expansion in the workforce, the percentage of all STEM workers has increased by 1% since 2016.

Black workers account for 11% of all employed adults but only 9% of STEM workers. Their share is lower in some STEM job clusters, with only 5% employed in engineering and architecture. Since 2016, there has been no change in the proportion of Black workers in STEM jobs.

The students in the program are:

  • Sydney Holder, pursuing a master of science degree in applied statistics and data science
  • Eugenia Mendez, pursuing a bachelor of science degree in computer science and data science
  • Jordan Terrazas, pursuing a bachelor of science degree in mathematics
  • Tania Cuff, pursuing a bachelor of science in management science and data science and an master of art in sustainability and development
  • Dongchan (John) Jo, pursuing a bachelor of science in computer science
  • Landon Ryden, pursuing a bachelor of science in statistical science and economics
  • Amberly Rodriguez, pursuing a bachelor of science in operations research and engineering management
  • Hien Lam, pursuing an master of science degree in data science
  • Amayrani Luna, pursuing a bachelor of art degree in creative computing

Regarding gender, the dynamics of attaining a STEM degree mirror many STEM job clusters. In 2018, women earned 85% of the bachelor’s degrees in health-related fields, 22% in engineering, and 19% in computer science. In areas where women are scarce, there have been incremental gains. Women earning bachelor and master degrees in engineering have increased by two points since 2014.

“It was such an amazing opportunity — I’d never heard about anything like it,” Amberly Rodriguez, a student in the program, told the Dallas Morning News. “I wasn’t too sure I’d get in — I didn’t feel like I had that much experience, but I’m really happy AT&T took a chance on me.”   

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