SPARTANBURG, S.C. – “Data scientist” has ranked as a top job in the U.S. for the past four years, and Dr. Beau M. Christ, assistant professor of computer science at Wofford College, is preparing students for success in the field.

“The field recently caught my attention after I kept reading about it in news articles and research journals,” Christ says. He started a conversation about and built enthusiasm on campus for data science – a multi-disciplinary field that uses scientific methods, processes, algorithms and systems to extract knowledge and insights from structured and unstructured data.

Using his recent appointment as a fellow in the XSEDE (Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment) Campus Champions program, Christ plans to develop a data science course for the spring semester as well as create a new computational and data science research lab at Wofford.

“I want to make the course easily accessible to a wide variety of students on campus – after all, many different fields deal with data,” Christ says. “Students will be able to take what they learn in the course and apply it in their other courses and areas of study. For students who want to do more, I am working on formally creating a data science program.”

Christ plans to seek suggestions, opinions, ideas and feedback from students and alumni throughout the process. “After all, I’m designing it for them. I have had a handful of students already tell me they are looking forward to participating.”

Christ became involved with the XSEDE program – funded through the National Science Foundation – two years ago. He was named an XSEDE Campus Champion Fellow after mentoring Wofford students who participated in the XSEDE Empower program. Empower (Expert Mentoring Providing Opportunities for Work Education and Research) is a program of the Shodor Foundation designed to expose students to the world of supercomputing through a progression of learning outcomes and responsibilities. Christ was one of five selected nationally as a Campus Champion Fellow.

“I am beyond thrilled and excited to have been selected,” he says. “Having this opportunity to shape part of Wofford’s future is truly an honor for me, and I’ll be working over the next year to make sure I do it right.”