Q&A with Dr.Richard Cimino, Course Developer for Visual Communication with Chemical & Materials Engineering Data
Data visualization and communication are an important part of improving how professionals analyze data in order to make critical decisions. For chemical and materials engineers, having these data-driven skills can help them excel in their career.
We got the inside scoop about NJIT’s new online certificate in Data Science for Chemical and Materials Engineers from course developer Rich Cimino, Ph.D. In this Q&A, he discusses everything you should know about the Visual Communication with Chemical & Materials Engineering Data course!
Q: What is Data Visualization and why is it important?
A: Visual images of data are powerful tools that can be used to make engineering decisions. Visual communication incorporates images and words to effectively communicate a concept or idea. Data visualization is the physical process of taking data and making it into a picture. Together the two tell a story.
Q: Why did you feel Data Visualization and Communication was something to start at NJIT?
A: We noticed there was a gap between what we were seeing from our students in terms of how professional their work, graphs, and other visualizations looked by the end of their undergraduate programs, and what employers may desire to see. We wanted to try and give the students specifically in [chemical and materials engineering] the tools that would allow them to improve that skill set without having to rely solely on their incidental experience from other courses or their research.
The vast majority of engineering courses don’t focus on visualization. Instead they tend to be focused on the numbers. So, to give students a kind of a leg up and give them an intuitive understanding of what it means to visualize something effectively using proper aesthetics was something we felt could enhance their education.
Q: Who should complete this graduate certificate program?
A: Anybody interested in making more effective figures or charts of data who also has a chemical or materials engineering background would definitely be good candidates, as would anyone with a STEM background. Professionals working in a data science related field who want to have a more innate understanding of the visual design process could also greatly benefit from this certificate.
Q: What will students learn in this course?
A: You will learn how to utilize the principles of aesthetics and visual design elements to generate effective visualizations in such a way that it’s accessible to a wide audience using what is called Universal Design…Maybe you need to talk to management regarding a decision that you have to make — you might show a figure in order to illustrate that point expanding out from there. You might also need a visualization for marketing purposes. So all of these things are important to learn.
You will also learn specific techniques for visualizing different types of data and how to choose the appropriate technique for the data sets they have. You’ll also be studying some more specific tools that allow us to transform and reduce large datasets, and to identify whether the models that we work with as data scientists are biased in some way using statistics. Finally, in this certificate program course you will gain a deep understanding of how to critically evaluate existing visualizations of data and how to disseminate your own visualizations using methods such as written and oral media.
Q: Describe what students will be doing in this course?
A: The course is a mixture of weekly assignments that involve reading and watching lecture videos or tutorials that you would then apply to your work. So, every week you're going to have a homework assignment which has two parts to it. The first part is to do with the weekly lecture material to help build your portfolio. The second part consists of a weekly deliverable that goes towards the capstone project. In the capstone project, you will be performing original research on a topic of your choice using engineering databases available online, and creating visualizations of your findings. You’ll also be interacting with your classmates with weekly discussions.
Q: What will students get out of it?
A: The big overarching deliverables that you will have are a design portfolio and the Capstone Project research paper. The design portfolio is based on all of the weekly lecture material and consists of professional visualizations and engineering memoranda. It’s something that you can hand to a (potential) employer and say, “This is what I’m capable of”. On top of [the portfolio] you’ll have a professionally written research paper that incorporates original visualizations. You’ll also be producing oral presentations and learning to understand how to apply aesthetics and design principles to create effective visualizations.
Advance your skill set at NJIT
Earning your certificate in data science for chemical and materials engineers can propel your career and help you become a valuable member of any team. You’ll be able to use these critical data analysis skills to make strategic decisions in the engineering industry. Apply now to start your journey as a trained data science professional.