Up Close with a Future Data Scientist

March 3, 2020

I sat down recently with Isaac Cassulis, a sophomore here at Houghton College. He is majoring in data science, a discipline that is quickly becoming crucial to a wide range of fields. Data science teaches the skills necessary to collect, organize and analyze data to provide insights for decision making.

Why Data Science?

“You can do data science anywhere,” Isaac said. “You can work in any field. It doesn’t constrain you.” He gave as an example Carmen McKell, a Houghton alumna who co-founded the sports analytics company Avrij Analytics. Carmen also was the Founding Director of the Center for Data Science Analytics at Houghton College.

Why Houghton?

Data science is the reason Isaac came to Houghton. He was looking for a college that offered the major but found it unavailable at many big schools and especially Christian colleges. At Houghton, he found not only the major but a great professor and mentor in Dr. Ryan Yates.

Isaac notes that data science is closely connected to computer science. “If you love computers or technology, it’s a great field.” Isaac did not enjoy programming in high school, but now, in addition to a Bachelor of Science degree in Data Science, he is working toward a Computer Science minor at Houghton (with a Data Science major, students can achieve a Computer Science minor with only one extra course) along with additional minors in business and theology. Isaac’s experience demonstrates that, sometimes, your enjoyment of a subject is as much about your teacher as the subject matter itself.

“Data is the New Oil”

As a college administrator, I see data playing an ever-increasing role in the decisions we make. Isaac is ahead of the game in this global trend. As one person said, “Data is the new oil,” and those who can wield it well are going to thrive.

Dr. Ken Schenck
Dr. Ken Schenck is Vice President for Planning and Innovation at Houghton College.