AT&T, SMU Team Up to Turn Data Science Training into Employment Opportunities

Through a new collaboration that combines training with hand-on experience, Dallas-based AT&T aims to create a pipeline for SMU students to become its next employees through the new Data Science Scholars Program. One of its goals is creating more opportunities for women and underrepresented students.

“Data science is a team sport,” said Mark Austin, AT&T’s VP for data science. who will help give the students challenges that are "bread-and-butter" to AT&T's own data science group.

AT&T and Southern Methodist University are teaming up to turn summer internships into potential employment opportunities.

Through a new collaboration that combines training with hand-on experience, the Dallas-based telecom giant aims to create a pipeline for SMU students to become its next employees through the new Data Science Scholars Program. One of the program’s goals is creating more opportunities for women and underrepresented students. 

“Data science is a team sport,” said Mark Austin, AT&T’s vice president for data science, in a statement. “On the team, we always have a business expert, we have someone who is really good at the coding piece and the engineering piece, and sometimes we have someone who is really good at visualization. Putting those together and making them work as a team is the key to success.”

Splitting the summer between classroom boot camps and AT&T internships 

Through the program, nine SMU students will be splitting their time between the classroom and the job. Throughout the summer, the students will take part in data science-focused boot camps led by SMU professors that will include a competition where students work with an AT&T mentor to help problems faced by the company.

The mentors will then help guide the students as they spend the second half of the summer working at AT&T’s offices, working on “challenges that are bread-and-butter to the communication company’s own data science group.”

“We’ve had interns for years, but we’ve never really done a boot camp where we actually have the formal training using the Artificial Intelligence tools we use here internally at AT&T and then collaborate on projects, too,” Austin said.

Students of the AT&T Data Science Scholars Program present their findings to faculty and AT&T representatives, Friday, June 17, 2022 in the Gerald J. Ford Research and Innovation Building on the SMU Campus. [Photo: SMU]

AT&T will cover the costs of both the bootcamps and internships. Following the students’ graduation from SMU, they’ll be offered the opportunity to interview for permanent positions at AT&T.

For the first batch of graduate and undergraduate students going through the program, students were selected from various STEM-related fields, including statistics, math, and engineering.

Overall, AT&T said the goal is to meet the growing demand for data scientists in the workforce, which it says is expected to increase by 22% over the next decade.

Meet the first group of students in the Data Science Scholars Program below:

  • Sydney Holder, pursuing an MS in applied statistics and data science
  • Eugenia Mendez, pursuing a BS in computer science and data science
  • Jordan Terrazas, pursuing a BS in mathematics
  • Tania Cuff, pursuing a BS in management science and data science and an MA in sustainability and development
  • Dongchan (John) Jo, pursuing a BS in computer science
  • Landon Ryden, pursuing a BS in statistical science and economics
  • Amberly Rodriguez, pursuing a BS in operations research and engineering management
  • Hien Lam, pursuing an MS in data science
  • Amayrani Luna, pursuing a BA in creative computing


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