Workshop Puts Focus on Ethics in Data Science for Emerging Leaders

The workshop provided several opportunities for students to receive mentoring from guest speakers, network, and have technical discussions.

Addressing bias and the need for transparency in computing is critically important. To help the next generation of leaders better understand these and other ethical aspects of data science and technology, an interdisciplinary group of Georgia Tech faculty members developed the Data Science for Social Good Workshop.

The inaugural event, held on campus this spring, attracted more than 80 students from across campus and around the world. It featured breakout sessions, panel discussions and two-minute "lightning talks" all covering algorithmic fairness, artificial intelligence, machine learning, mechanism design, optimization, and simulation.

A lineup of keynote speakers that included Black in AI co-founder Rediet Abebe, University of Maryland Assistant Professor Sean Barnes, and Accenture Consulting Analyst Kaitlin Rizk was also part of the workshop.

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“People think of data scientists as nerds who look at numbers all day, which can be true, but the reason that data scientists are sought after in every industry is because of their ability to look at all types of data and use it to solve real problems,” said Jennifer Lewis Priestley, a Kennesaw State University professor who was also a keynote speaker at the workshop.

"I want to encourage everyone in this room to work hard, if not harder, on their soft skills because that is how you can make all of the numbers impact people in a positive way," said Lewis Priestley, who is also a Georgia Tech alumna.

To participate in the workshop, students had to apply and be accepted by the organizers. One of the students selected for the kick-off workshop was Ejeh Okorafor, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

“I wanted to come to this workshop because I’ve started to realize how much data science is a part of every field, and it’s the direction that technology is going. Being able to combine those skills with the knowledge of how to use them to positively affect people is really inspiring and something I hope to be able to do throughout my career,” said Okafor.

The faculty organizers behind the Data Science for Social Good Workshop are:

  • Omar Isaac Asensio – Assistant Professor and Class of 1969 Teaching Fellow, School of Public Policy
  • Natashia Boland – Fouts Family Professor, H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Rachel Cummings – Assistant Professor, H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Jamie Morgenstern – Assistant Professor, School of Computer Science
  • Ira Wheaton Jr. – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering

Allie McFadden

Communications Officer