IST grad student intern applies data science skills in construction industry – Penn State News

Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a series of stories highlighting College of Information Sciences and Technology students and their summer internships.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As a Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology student pursuing a master’s degree in informatics, Kristen Williams had the opportunity this past summer to apply what she’s learned through her concentration in data science in a summer internship in the construction manufacturing industry. She worked as a data scientist at Carlisle Construction Materials, assisting the quality service team in developing various statistical process control (SPC) charts.

“I was familiar with most of the software the company used,” she said. “I was able to apply to real-life challenges during this internship based off of what I’ve learned from Penn State so far.”

Some of her tasks included creating a multivariate analysis composed of large datasets from various plants of the company, creating data visualization charts in Tableau and predictive models in Minitab, and constructing different charts in Thingworx — all things that she gained experience with at the College of IST.

“I think I was chosen for this position based on the material and skills that I learned and developed during the first year of my master’s program,” she said.

Williams’ research focus is on the adoption of technology in agriculture, specifically focusing on hydroponic farming practice. In the future, she would like to explore government contracting in the information technology space as a career path.

“This internship experience will make me a more well-rounded candidate when it’s time for full-time positions based on what I learned and the additional strong technical skills I gained,” she said. “I’ve also learned how important data science is within a manufacturing setting; how it is still fairly new, and it will continue to be a driving factor for many manufacturers.”

At Penn State, Williams is a member of the Penn State Black Graduate Student Association and Women of IST (WIST) to build community. Being far away from her home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and holding a bachelor’s degree from a smaller university, it was important to Williams to surround herself with like-minded individuals and to be challenged both in and out of the classroom.

“Being able to collaborate with diverse minds is important to any type of success,” she said. “I received my undergraduate studies in agricultural science at Southern University and A&M College, and being able to come into this program to pursue something new — and be successful at it — is very exciting. There is truly a seat for everybody at IST, no matter what background you are coming from.”


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