My name is Tony Robol, and I am a rising sophomore at Pitt and a newly admitted transfer student in the Swanson School of Engineering. I spent my freshman year in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. I am currently pursuing an Industrial Engineering major with a minor in Economics and a potential minor in Applied Statistics. A fun fact about me is that I was actually Homecoming King in high school!
For my project, I will be working with the Pittsburgh DataWorks organization to enhance the Pittsburgh Data Jam, a program run through the DataWorks that enriches high school students in the process of using data to answer a research question. My project will consist of two parts. First off, my project will examine data during the 2007-2009 H1N1 pandemic and economic recession to determine the increase (if applicable) in adult mental illness. It will be structured similarly to a Data Jam project, in which I pose the above research question and use the data to answer it. Then, more importantly, the second part of my project will involve creating a data manual as my deliverable to the DataWorks, using my project from part one as an example to elucidate the concepts presented. Representing the DataWorks as my community partner is Brian MacDonald, and my faculty mentor is Dr. Judy Cameron. I will be working with both of them on a weekly basis to ensure smooth and consistent progress of my project. The Data Jam exposes high schoolers to the up and coming career field of data science, exposure no one is too young to obtain. Thus, I believe my research is important because it will enhance the knowledge and experience high schoolers get from participating in this program, and better point them towards (or away from) the field of data science.
My main professional goals are to get a job in the Industrial Engineering field that involves data analysis, establish myself as a leader in the field, and make a difference in the lives of others through my/my team’s work. I believe this project will serve as a major stepping stone in accomplishing these goals. First, this project will immerse me more into the field of data analysis through the first part of my project, which will be directly relevant to my coveted job. Second, the manual I write will further enhance my teaching skills, which are extremely valuable in leadership and mentoring, no matter what the position. Finally, getting to work with a cohort with a wide range of projects fosters versatility of knowledge, which is never a bad thing in any workplace, as you never know when a particular aspect of interdisciplinary knowledge may help on the job.
My research will follow a design process that is very similar to the design process that my team and I followed in my Intro to Engineering Analysis class. I will brainstorm contents of my manual (Ideation), write the manual (prototyping), and get feedback from my consumers (the high school students) over zoom calls. Most importantly, I will reiterate this process after rounds of testing to ensure my final copy of the manual is most desirable by the collective “consumer” base. The main difference between the design process we followed in class and my manual design process is that I will not include the initial interviews done in class; these will be conducted after I have a manual draft ready to test.
Over the past few years, I have found that my interests lie in the field of statistics and data analysis, as well as teaching other students. In this project, I get to do all of that: first doing my own data analysis, then teaching other students about the process through my manual. As such, this project directly follows my career interests, which is why I am very excited to conduct this project this summer. I am ready to get to work!