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FICO expands data, AI program to DSU

Katie Tabeling
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Delaware State University has announced a new program with FICO to offer hands on data analytical training.| DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING

DOVER — Delaware State University has become the latest higher learning institution to team up with global analytics software leader FICO on an innovative data analytics program that tests the limits of artificial intelligence.

FICO launched the educational analytics challenge in September to offer students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) hands-on learning to analyze data and work with decision models, specifically focused on housing data. DSU marks the third HBCU to partner with the firm after Alabama A&M University and Bowie State University.

“The analytics challenge is a passion program of mine, and I am looking forward to meeting and working with the Delaware State students this semester,” FICO Chief Data Officer Scott Zoldi said in a statement. “Students are at the forefront of future AI innovation and gaining valuable experience now using AI tools responsibly and ethically is critical.”

Based in Montana, FICO is well-known for its credit scoring services but also blazed a trail in data science to improve operations. The company holds more than 200 patents on technologies that increase profitability and growth for businesses in financial services, insurance, telecommunications, health care, and other industries. Clients have used FICO products to protect 2.6 billion payment cards from fraud to boost supply chain resiliency.

With many mortgage lenders and insurers relying on online or app-based loan origination, credit scoring algorithms are coming under new scrutiny for racial bias. For example, a class action lawsuit was filed against State Farm in 2022 for automating claims processing that discriminated against Black policyholders, requiring more paperwork and more phone calls with insurers than white policyholders.

The FICO credit score, first introduced in 1989, is used by 90% of lenders in the United States.

“Of the most important lessons that the Bowie State and Alabama A&M students learned from identifying inherent biases in data was the need for a strong and diverse team working diligently to understand, hypothesize, and clean the data,” Zoldi added.

FICO will provide DSU students with access to FICO data scientists for technical and project support as well as mentoring opportunities. The program provides financial support for each participating college or university to enhance analytics study and create potential career opportunities for students after graduation.

Zoldi will also present an in-person lecture on campus on responsible AI use and hold a discussion with students on the challenge’s problem. With the program’s success, FICO is planning a new challenge for the 2024 academic year focused on fraud.

“We are looking forward to working with FICO’s data science team to help enrich our students’ college experience with real-world knowledge and opportunities before they enter the workforce,” DSU Dean of College of Business Michael Casson said. “Thank you to FICO for creating a program that encourages students to explore complex data science decisions, as well as the ability to learn how to use responsible AI to protect and safely advance analytic practices.”

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