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CHIPS Articles: NAVWAR Expands Data Science Training Program; Accelerates Digital Transformation

NAVWAR Expands Data Science Training Program; Accelerates Digital Transformation
By Elisha Gamboa, Naval Information Warfare Systems Command Public Affairs - March 26, 2021
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) presented the expansion of its data science training program at the virtual Naval Applications of Machine Learning workshop, March 23-25, providing the workforce with skills in data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence to accelerate digital transformation across the organization.

Digital transformation is the adoption of digital technologies at speed and scale to transform services or businesses through replacing manual processes with digital processes or replacing old digital systems with new digital systems.

In 2019, NAVWAR introduced a two-part data science workshop where experts in the field trained members of the workforce in the basic concepts of data science. Since 2019, the workshop has grown to include a comprehensive five-course data science-training program. More than 500 NAVWAR employees, from a variety of professional backgrounds, have completed courses within the program.

“Advances in digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning have expanded the modern battlefield,” said NAVWAR Executive Director John Pope. “These technologies coupled with process improvement and an innovative mindset of continual learning, are critical to winning the future fight. This data science program empowers professionals from across our organization to apply these advanced technologies in new and creative ways to rapidly make data driven decisions for the fleet.”

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 data science fundamentals course is a two-day workshop, available to all NAVWAR employees interested in an in-depth introduction to data science, including machine learning and artificial intelligence. 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.

Cheryl Livingston, from NAVWAR’s Contracts Department, recently completed an incubator project within the data science training program. While participating in the fundamentals workshop, Livingston spotted an opportunity to apply data science techniques to a quarterly requirement to forecast contracts two fiscal years into the future. Working with experts in the field, Livingston was able to explore various approaches to improve the accuracy of time-series forecasts, from linear-regression to machine learning software, where ultimately, an ensemble modeling approach led to the most accurate forecasting solution.

NAVWAR also launched a foundations for data citizens course and foundations of data analytics course. Mandatory for all employees, foundations for data citizens promotes the appropriate and responsible use of data and technology to perform work, collaborate with others, and address new challenges. Required for all supervisor-level professionals, foundations of data analytics ensures supervisors and those performing data analysis are armed with the analytical skills needed to improve decision-making and drive successful operations in a data-driven organization.

“With support from NAVWAR leadership, what started as a pilot effort to deliver training on data science to the workforce has grown into a program that I believe is truly unique in the Navy,” said David Byres, Logistics and Fleet Support program manager for the data science training initiative. “The emphasis on applying these techniques to our common business problems goes further than what has been attempted thus far, in delivering training on a critical, but also challenging, topic.”

In addition to these five courses, NAVWAR is working to develop a sixth course titled foundations of data visualization. The course will train participants on how to curate a visual summary of their data to better communicate the significance and meaning of the information provided.

“We are continuing to evolve our decision making culture and a big component of this effort is training and practical application,” said Mary-Kate Bailey, NAVWAR director of Organizational Development and Training. “Our digital training learning continuum provides both; foundational data science training as well fosters a supportive ecosystem for collaboration among our digital experts. It is essentially a building block approach to the training and we continually re-evaluate curriculum to ensure we integrate new areas of specialization. The new data visualization class is a case in point.”

NAVWAR’s data science team is also participating in this year’s Hack the Machine event, March 23-26, leading the design of the data science challenge centered on the COVID-19 pandemic, encouraging competitors to push traditional boundaries and explore unconventional solutions for future decision-making nationwide.

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.

210324-N-FX457-001 SAN DIEGO (Mar. 24, 2021) Rick Naystatt, Audiovisual Production Specialist assigned to Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) participates in a briefing during the virtual Naval Applications of Machine Learning workshop. NAVWAR presented the expansion of its data science training program at the 23-25 March workshop, providing the workforce with skills in data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence to accelerate digital transformation across the organization. (U.S. Navy photo by Elisha Gamboa/Released)
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