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Baskin Engineering Announces Three New Graduate Programs

By James McGirk
Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz
Special to Santa Cruz Tech Beat

May 15, 2019 — Santa Cruz, CA

The Baskin School of Engineering is pleased to announce three new graduate programs: Statistical Science, Serious Games, and Natural Language Processing.

Together, these three programs reflect UCSC’s trailblazing, interdisciplinary legacy and our increasingly interconnected, digital future.

Statistical Science

The Statistical Science program will offer both a master’s degree and a doctoral degree. Offered by the Statistics Department, the programs will provide a unique curriculum balanced in both Bayesian and frequentist modes of thinking and specialization. Students in the statistical science program learn to develop and use statistical methods to provide a probabilistic assessment of the variability in different data structures. This knowledge is applied to the quantification of the uncertainties inherent in the discoveries, summaries, and conclusions that are drawn from the data analysis.

Current faculty include Professor David Draper, whose work with big data includes medicine, health policy, environmental risk assessment, and eCommerce; Professor Rajarshi Guhaniyogi, whose work has applications in environmental science, forestry, epidemiology, neuroscience, and genomics; Professor Athanasios Kottas, whose work with Bayesian nonparametrics, modeling, and other methods has applications in biometrics, ecology, and environmetrics; Professor Herbert Lee, who uses statistical methods for computer simulation modeling and optimization with applications in computer experiments, hydrology, and aeronautical engineering; Professor Juhee Lee, who researches Bayesian nonparametrics and robust inference with multiple applications in biology, including cancer genomics, proteomics, and ecology; Professor Rachel Prado, who works with brain imaging data, spatio-temporal modeling and highly structured hierarchical models has applications in neuroscience, biostatistics, and environmetrics; and the Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs, Professor Abel Rodriguez, whose research interests include relational data and their application in political science, sociology, finance, and econometrics.

More information about the Statistical Science degrees: https://grad.soe.ucsc.edu/stats

Serious Games

The Serious Games master’s degree program is offered at the the UCSC Silicon Valley Campus in Santa Clara. Serious Games refer to games, particularly computer games, that focus on outcomes rather than (or in addition to) entertainment. Applications include learning, advocacy, advertising, medical rehabilitation and assessment, creating mathematical models, and many more. It will be the first of its kind in the nation, the only program directly addressing what is estimated to be a $5 billion to $15 billion market by 2020.

The degree consists of five academic quarters and trains students in six key areas: game design, game technology, eliciting and integrating subject matter knowledge, designing and conducting efficacy measurements, effective teamwork, and career planning–all within the context of the serious games field. It will culminate in a capstone project. The program’s location in the heart of Silicon Valley and its faculty’s close relationships with industry will create tremendous opportunities for students.

Professors Nathan Altice, Angus Forbes, Katherine Isbister, Sri Kurniawan, Michael Mateas, Adam M. Smith, Noah Wardrip-Fruin, and Jim Whitehead will oversee the new serious games curriculum. The program is directed by Michael John, who has over 25 years working with serious and entertainment games.

More information about the Serious Games M.S.: https://gpm.soe.ucsc.edu/serious-games/

Natural Language Processing

The Natural Language Processing master’s degree program will also be offered at UC Santa Cruz’s Silicon Valley campus. The program will accept the first cohort of students in fall quarter 2020.

Natural language processing (NLP) is the development of computer programs that can understand, generate, and learn human language for useful purposes. It is a method of analyzing large amounts of text or speech for such applications as automated question answering, sentiment analysis, and automatic text summarization or translation. The NLP field develops theories and computational models of languages that people speak and write and has grown enormously in the last twenty years, with applications in education, economics, digital humanities, biological, environmental, medical and health informatics and psychology, not to mention applications such as conversational interfaces, search, indexing, business intelligence, and computational advertising.

The proposed year-long program integrates foundational skills of data science and core elements of linguistic theory to cover all aspects of NLP. It will begin with coursework and conclude with a capstone project. Although all of the instruction will take place at the UCSC Silicon Valley campus, instruction for electives will be broadcast to the main campus in Santa Cruz. Classes will be taught by an interdisciplinary group of faculty from computer science, applied mathematics, statistics, psychology, and linguistics.

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