DREAMing with data: how one RSO became MSU’s tech success

Joshua Schuetz
Staff Writer

When Dr. Rajeev Bukralia arrived at MSU in 2016, there wasn’t a club for data science. There wasn’t even a single course on the subject. 

“I started to think out loud that it would be great to have a student club for science and artificial intelligence,” Dr. Bukralia said.

A number of his students agreed with him, and they decided to created an RSO dedicated to data science and artificial intelligence.

The name DREAM, selected by students in a vote, stands for “Data Resources for Eager and Analytical Minds.” 

Since then, DREAM has become one of MSU’s great success stories. In less than two years, membership has grown to 225 students, and it regularly holds workshops and training sessions with tech giants, providing its members with the skills and social connections to conduct their own research projects and land jobs in the lucrative tech sector. 

DREAM members have been applying their skills to complex problems, competing in hackathons and research competitions held by companies such as United Health, one of the largest healthcare companies in the U.S. Now MSU is hosting a data analytics competition of its own.

All of these successes without a program in data science. Dr. Bukralia teaches a course on the subject, and has said that the training that DREAM members receive has made a difference in students’ lives.

“Students are getting jobs, we are getting scholarships from companies, companies are coming here doing free training.” Dr. Bukralia said.

The organization’s members have also conducted research projects on their own, selecting topics that interest them. One student is researching the occurences of hate crimes.

But DREAM isn’t done growing yet. The organization is continuing to work with companies, and its members are continuing to compete in competitions.

Dr. Bukralia says that he wants to get students who normally might not be interested in data science involved. “I would like to see more students coming from a variety of fields that may feel that this is not their field.”

He noted that there are important roles for philosophy in data science and artificial intelligence, particularly in ethical matters.

Data is embedded in everything that we do, and as a consequence, data science can be used to tackle problems in almost any field.

DREAM’s successes come from the initiative taken by its members; students who find problems in the world that they want to utilize data science to better understand and solve. 

Any student who wishes to join DREAM can do so, regardless of their major. The organization meets on alternating Wednesdays, at 6:30 p.m. Students can join via Engage, and there are no membership fees.

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr.

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