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Data Fluency and Remotely Accessible Interdisciplinary STEMM Education

No one wants to spend a career looking over their shoulder as a robot is trained to do their work. The physics department of today must prepare students of all backgrounds for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. UAB Physics is doing its part to educate a generation that will look forward and lead. Our focus is on Emerging Technologies & Society, Reasoning with Data, and on civic science. UAB Physics students are equipped to use current and future technologies to address scientific and societal challenges.

In what ways can we prepare students to navigate and use emerging technologies? What skills should we prioritize as we prepare our students for the future?

In Physics, we emphasize the development of data fluency, i.e., the ability to use technology and data science to derive new knowledge. Data fluency goes beyond data literacy. When learning a new language, a literate person can read and speak, while a fluent person can use it to create a story or a poem. Our approach to 21st century education combines the development of data fluency with experiential learning in the experimental or computational Physics research lab.

Project RAISE

To facilitate the above goals, Dr. Lauren Rast leads project RAISE, Remotely Accessible Interdisciplinary STEMM Education. Rather than simply developing new online courses for life-long learning, RAISE explores innovative ways of using emerging educational technologies to broaden participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM). In particular, RAISE provides a STEMM-personalized support framework not limited by geography or by social, gender, or economic disparities. This is especially important for empowering underrepresented groups and life-long learners to participate in 21st century job opportunities, now made possible through Physics. In recognition of success, Rast received the Provost’s Award for Transformative Online Courses. Learn more about RAISE.

The Magic City Data Collective

The Magic City Data Collective is a public-private partnership and model for “City as Classroom” housed in the UAB department of Physics. Dr. Lauren Rast serves as Principal Investigator/Project Director for the Magic City Data Collective project. “MCDC connects purpose-driven companies with diverse data professionals. Based in Birmingham, a destination for civic-minded talent.”

How to Apply for MCDC:

MCDC is now recruiting undergraduate student participants for Fall 2023/Spring 2024! Learn more and apply. For questions or program information, email Dr. Rast at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

MCDC brings together students, researchers, and data experts in project teams to provide the information that Birmingham leaders need to move the Magic City forward. MCDC trains undergraduate students of all backgrounds and interests in interested in exploring careers in data. Those accepted are paid $15/hour to learn data science and professional skills and work with some of the greatest companies in Birmingham and across the country. Our partners include ThinkData Solutions, where students will engage in a wide variety of educational and training activities, the Birmingham Business Alliance, Prosper Inc., and Landing. MCDC gives students opportunities for data fluency education in UAB Physics and hands-on data training and professional development with local employers.