Educating Future Data Scientists in Real-Time Analytics

data scientists

The data scientist, a relatively new and critical role, is concerned with developing a historical model from Big Data that can be deployed in real-time to predict future business events. RTInsights Editorial Director Suzanne Kattau discusses how Penn State, UConn and NYU are a few of the universities educating tomorrow’s data scientists.

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the United States faces a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with analytical expertise, and 1.5 million managers and analysts with the skills to understand and make decisions based on the analysis of Big Data. The following are a few universities who are aiming to teach real-time data analytics skills to future data scientists.

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)

Penn State logoPenn State announced on June 16, 2015 the launch of an online Master’s degree in Data Analytics program. They said the new degree was designed to help prepare professionals for needed jobs in data analysis. “As a society, we’re seeing data being generated at rates like never before, and the data are being stored in formats we’re not used to using, such as Twitter feeds or web profiles,” said Colin Neill, Associate Professor of Software and Systems Engineering, and Director of Engineering Programs at the Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies, in a statement. “Our new program aims to help solve the onslaught of Big Data by training the people who can create the infrastructure necessary to mine this vast amount of information.”

According to the statement, in the base program, students will:

“learn about data management technologies and techniques for descriptive, prescriptive and predictive analytics. Graduates can pursue jobs in data mining, data modeling, data architecture, business intelligence (BI) development and more. In the business analytics option, students will learn to analyze large data sets for market needs and to make data-driven business decisions. This track is aimed at business analysts, data scientists and analytic system designers.”

The data analytics program was designed to help the students become experts in handling large and complex data sets, according to David Sylvia, Director of Academic Affairs for Graduate Programs at Penn State World Campus. It was designed as an online program “so they can take advantage of the forecasted career growth in this field,” Sylvia said in a statement. “They can accomplish this goal with the convenience of balancing their education with their work and family commitments.”


University of Connecticut (UConn)

UConn logoUConn is preparing tomorrow’s data scientists with the skills needed for real-time analytics work in its School of Business. UConn offers an MS degree in Business Analytics and Project Management. One course offered is entitled, “Predictive Modeling” and, according to its syllabus, describes predictive modeling as the process of developing models to better predict future outcomes for an event of interest by exploring its relationships with explanatory variables from historical data.

The course covers the process of “formulating business objectives, data selection, preparation and partition to successfully design, build, evaluate and implement predictive models for a variety of practical business applications (such as direct marketing, cross selling, customer retention, delinquency and collection analytics, fraud detection, machine failure detection, insurance underwriting).”

Students taking the course will learn to help companies answer business questions, including the following four:

1. who is likely to respond to a new advertisement

2. what customers are most likely to be default on a loan/payment

3. what transactions are most likely to be fraudulent, and

4. what combinations of products are customers most likely to purchase at the same time


New York University (NYU)

NYU logoAmazon Inc. offers the Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Education Grant. The AWS in Education Grant lets students use AWS to develop Big Data Analytics projects using Hadoop. NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, a center for research and education in mathematics and computer science, is a recipient of the AWS in Education Grant.

“In order for NYU to be effective as a research university, we need to be extremely good at data science,” said Roy Lowrance, Managing Director of the NYU Center for Data Science, in a promotional video (see below). “So this has meant setting up a research center…and setting up a teaching center, which offers two degrees: right now we’re offering the Master of Science in Data Science degree, and we will shortly offer a PhD degree.”

The school’s Master of Science in Data Science degree is for aspiring data scientists who have a strong background in mathematics, computer science and applied statistics. The degree focuses on the development of new methods for data science. One course, entitled “Real-Time and Big Data Analytics,” introduces future data scientists to the architectures and technologies at the foundation of the Big Data movement which, according to the course’s syllabus, have “facilitated scalable management and processing of vast quantities of data collected through real-time and near-real-time sensing.”

Must-Have Data Science Skills for Job Market

Data scientists need to be highly educated. According to executive recruiting firm Burtch Works, 88 percent of data scientists have at least a Master’s degree and 46 percent of them have PhDs. Penn State, UConn and NYU are just a few of the universities that are helping students achieve that goal, teaching them the must-have technical skills that are at the top of hiring managers’ lists (according to the firm).

Every company will value skills and tools a bit differently, Burtch Works says, but if tomorrow’s college graduates have the technical analytics skills employers want, they will be making a strong case for themselves as data scientist candidates.

Listen to Lowrance in the video below, which is an overview NYU’s Master of Science in Data Science program:

Penn State, UConn and NYU logos courtesy of Twitter.


Suzanne Kattau

About Suzanne Kattau

Suzanne Kattau is a senior communications professional with more than 15 years of editorial experience working for major tech publishing organizations including Ziff Davis Enterprise, CMP Media, UBM and BZ Media. Suzanne has a BA in English from Hofstra University. She can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]. She can be followed on Twitter @SuzanneKattau.

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