Welcome to DataFirst

DataFest is now DataFirst!
DataFirst is a recurring, semester-long event at USC where students from different backgrounds and programs get hands-on experience in real projects involving data science. DataFirst focuses on projects proposed by USC faculty and researchers, often combining faculty and students in data science as well as in other disciplines.

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Semester-specific info

Our numbers

10 Semesters

We’ve been running DataFirst for 10 successful semesters, fostering data science collaboration.

144 Projects

We’ve facilitated 144 real-world data science projects, driving innovation and research.

411 Students

A total of 411 students have participated, bringing their skills and enthusiasm to projects.

74 Advisors

Our program has engaged 74 advisors from diverse academic backgrounds and disciplines.

10 Schools

DataFirst has brought together students and advisors from 10 different schools within USC.

DataFirst Timeline

DataFirst starts every semester, inviting faculty to propose data science projects. Students apply, and faculty provide guidance as they work on projects. The semester concludes with presentations showcasing the results and the spirit of collaboration in data science.

Call for Projects proposals
Week 1

Proposal deadline & Kickoff Meeting
Week 2


Student applications
Week 2

Faculty review & student assigments
Week 3

Midterm presentation
Week 8

Final presentation
Week 15

Call for Projects proposals

Week 1 This marks the beginning of the DataFirst program. Faculty members are invited to submit their project proposals, outlining the data science challenges they'd like to address in collaboration with students. It's an opportunity to set the stage for innovative and meaningful projects. The projects proposed should be semester-long projects where students spend a maximum of 10 hours a week.

Proposal deadline & Kickoff meeting

Week 2 The kickoff meeting serves as an introduction to the available projects. Faculty members present their proposals to the students, providing insights into the challenges and objectives. It's a moment of inspiration and project exploration.

Student applications

Week 3 After the kickoff meeting, students are encouraged to apply for the projects that align with their interests and skills. They have one week to submit their project preferences, indicating which projects they'd like to work on.

Faculty review & student assigments

Week 8 Faculty members review the student applications and provide valuable feedback. This step ensures that students are matched with projects that best suit their abilities and interests. Faculty guidance plays a crucial role in this process. Thenm DataFirst co-chairs make student assignments based on faculty feedback and student preferences.

Midterm presentation

Week 8 About halfway through the semester, student teams present their midterm progress. These presentations provide an opportunity to assess the direction of the projects, make adjustments if needed, and showcase the initial results.

Final presentation

Week 15 The culmination of the DataFirst program, student teams present their final project outcomes. This is a moment of celebration and reflection on the data science journey, highlighting the solutions and insights gained through their hard work and collaboration.

Center for Knowledge-Powered Interdisciplinary Data Science (CKIDS)

DataFirst is organizated by the CKIDS.

CKIDS puts forward a unique vision for data science at USC focused on incorporating diverse disciplinary knowledge into data-driven inquiry. In this view, data science connects advanced computer science and informatics research together with rich knowledge about the context and use of the data that comes from a particular expertise area or discipline.

We welcome faculty, students, researchers, and everyone in the Trojan family to participate in DataFirst. Please signup for our mailing list or contact us with any questions!

Participating Schools

We are grateful to the participating schools for their support of DataFirst.