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UAMS Awarded $1.3M for High School-Focused Tech and Data Science Program

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UAMS has been awarded a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for its Arkansas Technology and Data Science in Health and Medicine (AR Tech-DaSH) program.

The five-year grant from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) will support an outreach exposure program focused on technology and data science in health and medicine for high school students, teachers and the community, primarily in northwest Arkansas.

AR Tech-DaSH will incorporate imaging technologies and a data science curriculum focused on health and medicine into classroom outreach programs, a 10-day summer camp and community events.

The program will target underserved and underrepresented students in northwest Arkansas and will revolve around three major health concerns prevalent in the region: obesity and diabetes, cardiovascular and immunology and cancer.

The grant will fund seminars for ninth-grade classes at schools in both rural and urban districts in Northwest Arkansas. Students will experience using a variety of medical-related technologies, such as stethoscopes, ultrasound, infrared and CT imaging, as well as data science-focused activities.

The 10-day summer camp, which will be held once a year, aims to provide 25 students with an integrated exposure to medical-related skills, clinician-patient simulations, research and case-based discussions of primary health concerns. The camp also hopes to provide students with an exposure to exploratory data analysis, data transformation, data mining and machine learning using health or medicine-related datasets.

Students who attend the AR Tech-DaSH camp will be designated as STEM ambassadors and will design and implement outreach events in their local communities with input from community stakeholders.

Also part of the program are virtual outreach sessions, which will be provided to rural classrooms across the state. Virtual teacher training workshops plan to show teachers how to incorporate imaging and data science into their classroom curriculum.

“The goal is to get students excited about STEM and data science careers so that the future workforce in these fields better reflects the diverse population in the U.S.,” Kevin Phelan, AR Tech-DaSH program director, said in a press release. “Arkansas is a relatively poor, rural state with one of the lowest per capita income and education levels in the country. It faces the same challenges as other states in trying to prepare for the demands of a properly educated and diverse STEM workforce. Arkansas students desperately need early and repeated exposure to STEM and data science to be prepared not only for future careers but also to enable them to make data-driven decisions about lifestyle choices that affect their health.”

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