Driven by Data
What started as a love for watching baseball with his dad has turned into a promising career goal.
Frankie Vazquez ’22, a data science major, has completed undergraduate research to combine his love for professional sports with his interest in statistics and metrics.
“Ever since I pursued data science, my goal has been to get into sports analytics,” Frankie says. “I like to look at the metrics that can help a team win. What do the numbers say a team like the Chicago Cubs could do to improve leading up to the World Series?”
Frankie hopes to follow these aspirations to a job creating daily sports graphics. He recently joined Valpo’s ESPN broadcasting team to learn more about future career paths in the industry.
“I started working with the ESPN crew on presenting statistics during the broadcast,” Frankie says. “I did research prior to the games to find what stories we could include in the broadcast from what I saw in the numbers, and during the games I looked for stories to highlight as they happened.”
From his first year at Valpo, Frankie was able to complete experiential learning related to his major through the lens of sports. He was part of a research project that looked at heart rate data for the Valpo women’s soccer team. His team’s research project was accepted for a poster presentation at a conference for the Society of Neuroscience.
“My undergraduate research opportunity demonstrated the interdisciplinary nature of data science,” Frankie says. “My project was heart rates and another was traffic patterns. I want to go into sports, but I could go into business or butterflies. It is important to know your data set and then do your analysis. At Valpo, we learn the flexibility to work with whatever you get thrown and then how to present those ideas and statistics clearly.”
As Frankie progressed through Valpo’s data science program, he was able to help shape its future. The summer after his sophomore year, a group of students were tasked with coming up with a definition for data science along with relevant course topics and when they should be covered in the curriculum.
“I examined the interdisciplinary nature of data science,” Frankie says. “For instance, how could the concepts we learn in data science be applied to the graphics and analytics used in other fields, like biology or economics.”
Frankie’s opportunities to explore concepts of data science using real-world applications wouldn’t be possible without the faculty relationships he’s built as a student.
“All of my professors in the mathematics and statistics department have fueled my desire to learn,” Frankie says. “Professor Brian Davis, is as much of a nerd as I am; he showed me there can be a fun side to academia.”
While Frankie is able to learn from experts in the field, he also exemplifies an enthusiasm to learn that draws many faculty members to Valpo.
“Frankie pleasantly caught me off guard with his immediate intrigue of data science and grasp of its concepts,” says Brian Davis, M.S., lecturer in mathematics and statistics. “Working with him has been a pleasure, and seeing him come this far with data science as a passion has only seemed natural — a testament to how seamlessly we can tell our stories by trusting in the paths we take.”