Ben Fowler

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Current Employer/Occupation: CarePredict, Senior Data Scientist

What have you been up to since completing the program?

My work has been focused on developing deep learning models to predict outcomes with unmatched accuracy for senior citizens who are residents at assisted living, memory care, home care and independent living facilities. The field of deep learning is rapidly evolving, and as such, it’s critical to stay abreast of the latest trends. I’ve attended both the Google for Entrepreneurs conference and the O’Reilly Artificial Intelligence Conference to stay up to date.

How have you implemented the skills and tools learned in the program at your current job?

The statistics and programming skills gained at SMU, have been vital to my work. Every day I write code, and the coursework at SMU has helped prepare me to do my work well. Having programming skills is important, but equally important is having the acumen to write code in a manner that follows the fundamentals of statistics. The skills gained at SMU have been very beneficial in fulfilling these requirements.

How has earning a master’s in data science helped you in your career?

Having a Master of Science in Data Science has provided me with a tremendous depth of knowledge in the field of data science. The multidisciplinary approach of the SMU curriculum contributed to the development of my skills in coding, statistics and data visualization.

Did you utilize any of SMU’s career services during your time as a student?

Yes, and the time was well spent. A career services counselor coached me on how to develop my portfolio, and this advice significantly enhanced my presentation.

Did you have a favorite class or project in the program?

My favorite class was Data Mining. It was rigorous, but the time put into the class was well spent. During this course we did four machine learning labs in both Python and R, which were very comprehensive. As a result, I became much better prepared to develop complex machine learning and deep learning algorithms. These enhanced skills were directly transferable to my work as a senior data scientist.

What is the most valuable thing you learned while in the program?

There were so many great things I learned in the program that it’s difficult for me to pick just one. My improved skills in coding, statistics, collaboration, time management, presentations and visualizations were all very valuable to me. The best, and most unexpected, part of the program for me was the relationships I gained. I was apprehensive about an online program and the ability to forge relationships with students and the faculty as I would in an in-person classroom setting. This concern was completely unwarranted. What I found is that I developed stronger relationships with my classmates and professors than I would in an on-site environment! I still maintain connections with some of my classmates and professors, even as an alumnus of the program.

What advice do you have for currently enrolled students?

My advice would be to be studious and work hard. Persistence pays off. It’s not just about getting high grades – although that is fulfilling – but it’s about gaining a strong depth of knowledge that you can rely upon in your career. Persistence is one of the best traits that you can have as a student.

Where would you like to see yourself and your career in 10 years?

The field of data science is rapidly evolving, so it’s difficult to foresee 10 years into the future. But, I love developing complex deep learning models that can predict outcomes with unparalleled accuracy. As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes embedded in society, I look to stay at the cutting edge of AI technology.