NASA is using data science to fill its data science skills gap

All the evidence suggests it’s tough to get hold of talented data scientists – and that’s even true at NASA, says David Meza, acting branch chief of people analytics and senior data scientist at the US space agency.

So what does a skills gap look like at NASA? Meza says his team is still taking a “deep dive” into the organisation’s data science talent demands – but clear patterns are emerging, particularly in terms of identifying capability that already exists within the organisation.

That’s where Meza’s organisation comes in, with the team working on the creation of a workforce talent-mapping database to identify the data skills required for all kinds of projects, whether that’s getting back to the Moon, going to Mars or working on scientific endeavours closer to home, such as climate change, aeronautical engineering or medical research.

Fittingly then, the solution to filling the data science skills gap at NASA lies in data science itself. The talent-mapping database that Meza is developing uses Neo4j technology to build a knowledge graph, which is designed to show the complex and varied relationships between data – and in this case, the relationships between people, skills and projects at NASA.

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