Outstanding Grads: Ryan Volkert and Dawson Eliason, College of Natural Sciences

Outstanding Grads Graphic
Ryan Volkert
Ryan Volkert

Ryan Volkert and Dawson Eliason both followed a unique opportunity to be among the first class to graduate from Colorado State University’s Data Science major in the College of Natural Sciences, an achievement that uniquely positions them for a range of possibilities in the professional world.

Volkert is a Denver native graduating with degrees in data science with a concentration in economics and theatre with a concentration in performance, and a minor in statistics.

At first, Volkert was not expecting to become so academically involved. In fact, he wasn’t even expecting to attend CSU.

“Being from Colorado, I wanted to go to school somewhere out of state, and only applied to CSU as a backup and without even visiting,” he explained.

After he was accepted to CSU, Volkert decided to visit Fort Collins and tour campus. It was this tour that helped him decide to enroll in 2017.

“I really just felt at ease on that campus tour, so I decided to stay in Colorado and attend CSU,” he said.

Volkert had not planned to be part of the College of Natural Sciences, either.

“I actually came to CSU as a declared theatre major, with the intention of adding economics as a second major,” he said.

That was his plan before CSU launched a new major in data science in Fall 2018, the first of its kind in the entire Rocky Mountain region. Nearly a quarter of the classes in the economics concentration of the Data Science major are offered by the economics department, where Volkert became interested in it.

“The econometrics classes sparked my interest in statistics, which just needed the coding to be data science,” he said.

Volkert has lots of plans for his future beyond graduation. After spending some time in the professional world of data science, he hopes to one day open a brewery.

Dawson Eliason

Dawson Eliason
Dawson Eliason

Eliason started his journey to his data science degree as a mechanical engineering major in 2017. After some self-reflection, he came to the conclusion that the mechanical engineering major was not the best fit for him.

“I saw an article about the new Data Science major and after doing some research it seemed absolutely perfect for me,” Eliason explained.

He decided to switch majors and is now graduating with a bachelor’s degree in data science with a concentration in statistics. This combination provided Eliason with everything he hoped he would have in a university degree program.

“The degree is a combination of programming, engineering, science and research.”

Because he is one of the first to graduate from CSU with a degree in data science, and statistical data science is so widely applicable in today’s job market, Eliason had a wide range of career paths he could follow upon graduation.

Once he graduates, he’ll be starting full time at a research consultancy located in Fort Collins called Mountain Data Group.

The Mountain Data Group focuses on machine learning and data science solutions in industries ranging from biotechnology to retail trade, which will allow Eliason to use his education to its full potential on a daily basis.

Outstanding Grads Spring 2021

It’s a graduation like no other. Amidst all of the challenges and uncertainties, the Class of 2021 has remained stalwart to earn their degrees at Colorado State University. Read more stories of some of the outstanding students who are graduating this spring. read more