Communicating My Results to a Diverse Audience

By: Tony Robol

The objective of my summer project is to create a manual to better help high schoolers gain early exposure to the field of data science through the annual Pittsburgh Data Jam competition. My final manual will contain not only every detail and point of emphasis needed to conduct a high-level Data Jam project, but also background information on statistics and mathematics to give a boost to those who may not be on the same educational level as others. My research will not only help the high schoolers through hopefully providing details to enhance their projects, but also the Pittsburgh DataWorks (my community partner) by improving their image and their partnerships, such as the University of Pittsburgh and PPG. However, as the significance of my research will be communicated to a broader audience who may not be as knowledgeable in the field of statistics, some of the strategies I may use include analogies to more commonly known topics, elimination of jargon from my work, and use of common argumentative strategies like logos.

As an intended industrial engineer, a few audiences outside my major that I may need to interact when pursuing this career are writers and journalists, government, and economists. First, I will need to convey my work in a way in which professional writers can understand, as they may be writing some of the reports we produce at work. Thus, I must be able to convey my findings in a way that they understand, otherwise their writing will not be nearly as effective. Second, the government may want to understand our ideas and ensure that we are within the bounds of the law; this goes no matter where I work. Finally, economists from other companies may want to ensure that our new methods are going in the right direction monetarily, and not expending more money by making processes more efficient (although this is counterintuitive).

For my project this summer, I plan to communicate the findings of my research to a broader audience using a few different tactics. First and foremost, I intend to greatly emphasize the good I am doing for the community. This will include highlighting the rise of data science in today’s world and how my research enhances early exposure to this up-and-coming career field. Second, I intend to use common analogies to explain some of the statistical concepts that may come up during my presentations, such as “regression and scatterplots go together like peanut butter and jelly”. Finally, I intend to leave a chunk of time for questions to allow for any remaining questions to be answered and ensure full understanding of my research.

Industrial engineers spend a lot of time working with statistics and data, which is why I chose this field of engineering when I transferred into Swanson. Through this project, I can not only talk about the process of my own Data Jam project, but also the skills in writing and communication I gained along the way. The process of my own Data Jam project includes defining research questions, data collection, and analysis to name a few, and the principles I learned about each of these steps will be extremely helpful going into a field involving heavy data processing. However, gaining writing and communication skills is arguably more important, as these skills are universal. No matter where I choose to work as an industrial engineer, I will be required to work with other companies on improving their efficiency. This involves selling an idea, and through heightened communication and writing skills, I will be able to do this at a higher and perhaps more profitable level than if I had gone into the workforce without the Community Research Fellowship.

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