CDS Graduates Encouraged to Emphasize Empathy, Integrity in Their Future Work

Data-driven technologies will change the world – but only if data scientists listen to the people using the technologies and focus their efforts on real-world challenges. That was the message from convocation speaker Fredric Cibelli (CAS ‘99) to the inaugural class of Computing & Data Sciences degree recipients.

Fred Cibelli, CDS Convocation 2023“Don’t forget each other, the humans, the users. At the end of the day, that is what matters most,” said Cibelli, a principal in technology consulting at Ernst & Young LLP. “Too much effort is wasted on technology features that don’t solve a real-world problem. Keep a focus on the human element of technology, spend 1000% more time talking to users…. This is when the technology we build changes the world around us.”

Faculty, families and friends gathered for the May 21 convocation in a light-filled atrium at the recently opened Center for Computing & Data Sciences. Mark Crovella, CDS Chair of Academic Affairs, presented the five graduates: Daniel Skahill (CDS’23), Samantha Chen (CDS ’24), Zining Ye (CDS ’23), Yile Wang (CDS ’23), Edward Wong (CDS’23). The faculty also acknowledged three students who minored in data science: John Bestavros (CAS'23), Sneha Korlakunta (CAS'23) and Wenyan Zhang (CAS'23). Each of the graduates received a hand-carved wooden sculpture of the CDS building created by Micah Sieber, CDS Director of Academic Programs.

Integrity and empathy are core values of data science work, BU Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences Associate Provost Azer Bestavros told graduates. “Remember the importance of integrity. And as you navigate the ever more complex landscape of computing and AI technologies, embrace the virtue of humility. Embrace the power of empathy,” Bestavros said, also encouraging graduations to persevere through challenges in their careers.

After graduates received their diplomas, they took the CDS Pledge of the Computing and Data Science Professional, a statement of professional ethics and integrity, which was administered by Wesley Wildman, CDS Chair of Faculty Affairs. With the pledge, graduates committed to “respect and protect the dignity, privacy, and agency of all users, subjects, or objects of my work” and to “uphold my moral obligations and use my skills ethically for the public good and wellbeing of all.”

The inaugural CDS graduating class may be small, but their interests are diverse. Leading up to the convocation, graduating students told BU Today that the interdisciplinary approach to the program attracted them to study. They hope to work in fields ranging from business to sports analytics to artificial intelligence and machine learning to public service.

“I’m really interested in using machine learning to have a better impact on the world than working for a corporation that doesn’t necessarily always have the best intentions in mind. BU has really inspired me to have an ethical approach to machine learning,” said Daniel Skahill.

The students also recognized their position as pioneers. “It feels cool. I feel excited to be one of the first students to graduate with this major,” said Zining Ye.

Read more in BU Today.


Posted May 26, 2023 | Michael Goldberg