6/13/18 Hillenbrand

Hillenbrand Hall is slated to be the home to the Data Mine learning community.

Although most Purdue learning communities are meant to help burgeoning young freshmen find their place in college, one new community will change the status quo.

An associate professor of statistics, Mark Ward, is working to create the Data Mine, a new community that upends all of the norms that LCs usually adhere to.

These residents will fill Hillenbrand Hall.

Except for a small space for students already promised rooms, the entirety of the residence hall will be used for the students in the Mine, according to Jonathan Manz, associate director of residential academic initiatives.

A lobby will be converted into a “collaboration station,” and a professor’s office will be added to the computer lab.

“As we implement The Data Mine, we are building on Hillenbrand’s wonderful environment,” Ward said over email. “One key change is that we are planning to (create) spaces where students and faculty can meet to discuss courses and research experiences.”

The Data Mine will be open to students of all majors in what is a step away from typical academically focused residential programs.

Manz said the goal is that every collaborating department resides on an entire floor of Hillenbrand. Students will work together on projects related to their major using data analytics, even those not in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

“Some projects are specifically geared toward non-STEM majors,” Ward said. “The data to be studied will be as varied as the Learning Communities’ themes themselves.”

Further distinguishing this project from others is the hope that students from all years will join and stay in the community for multiple years. Ward said the multi-use nature of data will keep students interested in learning job-applicable skills, as well as encourage students to remain there.

“If students choose to live in Hillenbrand in (academic year) 2019-20,” Ward said, “we will work closely with them to find experiences in The Data Mine that match their professional goals and ambitions.”

Those behind the Mine aren’t concerned that any rooms will be left open from a lack of interested students, something that could spell trouble for a campus in the midst of a residential housing crisis.

“We can safely anticipate very high demand for the spaces in The Data Mine to be filled,” Ward said.

Applications to join the Mine are open on the Purdue Learning Communities website for the fall of 2019.

“Ultimately this endeavor is about the students,” Manz said over email, “connecting them to research that is of their interest, and faculty that will teach and support them.”

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