The first version of this workshop debuted in 2019, as a two-day course where experts in the field trained members of the workforce in the basic concepts of data science. Since then, the workshop has grown to include a comprehensive five-course data science-training program that is designed to walk participants through an introduction of data science and into more advanced courses where they can use their training for practical applications using NAVWAR data.
“This training is fundamental to developing our ability to recognize opportunities for applying advanced analytics techniques in support of faster, smarter decision-making,” said David Byres, Logistics and Fleet Support program manager for the data science training initiative.
Program training courses include a three-part progression of a data science fundamentals class, a hands-on data science laboratory and a theory-to-practice incubator course for those who want to apply their training to real world projects and problem sets.
The introductory course “Foundations for Data Citizens” is mandatory for all employees, promoting the appropriate and responsible use of data and technology to perform work, collaborate with others, and address new challenges. A companion course, “Foundations of Data Analytics,” is required for all supervisor-level professionals with the goal of ensuring that supervisors and those performing data analyses are armed with the skills needed to improve decision-making and drive successful operations in a data-driven organization.
As a result of the pandemic, and in order to better accommodate the wide variety of schedules among the workforce, online and on-demand versions of the courses were created on the NAVWAR Udemy for Business Enterprise learning platform that NAVWAR employees can access for free. There are also plans to introduce new courses this year, including Python programming for Data Science and an in-depth introduction to artificial intelligence.
Last year, six projects were completed through the laboratory and incubator courses. The laboratory provides case study-based training that takes participants through the full lifecycle of an analytics project, from problem definition through presentation of findings. The incubator then pairs participants with data scientists and subject matter experts to apply advanced analytics techniques to address business challenges.
Employees from across the enterprise participated in the laboratory and incubator courses including Comptroller, Contracts, Logistics and Fleet Support, Engineering, Corporate Operations and Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic. These projects delivered useful analytics products with the potential for enterprise-wide applicability, greatly accelerating the learning process for all involved and providing valuable lessons learned that will be used to further improve the training courses.
For Fiscal Year 2022, the Incubator program has been expanded to include participation from Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Headquarters and the NAVSEA Warfare Centers. Last year, a small cohort of NAVSEA employees completed the Data Science Fundamentals workshop and advanced to the Data Science Laboratory course, where they experienced the full data science lifecycle firsthand, from framing a problem, through data acquisition, to model selection, development, and presenting their results. Two projects have launched in the first quarter of this fiscal year, with participation from Ship Repair Facility, Yokosuka, Japan and the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division.
“The real value of these incubator projects is that we’re trying to do data science in a NAVWAR setting with NAVWAR data,” said Byres. “Then we can take these real-world applications and feed them back into our training as opposed to off-the-shelf examples. As a result, other NAVWAR employees who take the introductory data science courses can see how this affects their day-to-day work because it uses data and challenges they’re familiar with.”
Moving forward NAVWAR plans to combine the laboratory and incubator courses into one longer class, with variations built around specific examples from previous incubator projects. There are around a dozen of these incubator projects taking real world problems and finding data science solutions for them.
Not only will the workforce be able to practice and apply the data science fundamentals they learned through previous courses, but the data solutions they find could benefit hundreds or even thousands of employees in the NAVWAR enterprise by delivering useful analytics products.
NAVWAR identifies, develops, delivers and sustains information warfighting capabilities and services that enable naval, joint, coalition and other national missions operating in warfighting domains from seabed to space and through cyberspace. NAVWAR consists of more than 11,000 civilian, active duty and reserve professionals located around the world.
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