Brayden Van Ackeren

Location: Bellevue, Washington

Occupation: Site Reliability Engineer, Concur

Education: B.A. in Economics from University of Hawaii


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I went to the University of Hawaii for undergrad, where I received a B.A. in Economics. I currently work at Concur as a site reliability engineer. My two favorite sports are football and soccer. I played football all the way into college, and just grew to love soccer.

What initially attracted you to the data science field?

I was interested in the versatility of industry application, as well as the full stack development of understanding data processes (collection through analysis).

Why did you decide to pursue a Master of Science in Data Science?

At the age of 24, I know that I will change and develop as a person, and a Master’s in Data Science would give me the ability to be a contributor in nearly any industry. The advanced degree helps me develop connections within the industry, learn standard practices, apply the skills to my passions, as well as stand out. 

Why did you choose DataScience@SMU? 

I chose SMU because of the program’s focus on teaching and the life applications around data. When I started, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to apply myself. I knew at the end of my time at SMU I would be able to apply myself into whatever data-related situation I had, from DB administrator to statistical analyst.

What skills and tools that the program covers do you think are most appealing?

Data mining, Python and statistics are the big three that sparked my interest in artificial intelligence, big data and modeling. 

How are you able to apply what you are learning to your current position?

I am currently able to contribute to my team throughout the entire data management and analysis process. I engage in the planning and development of storage systems and transformations, as well as the consideration of best methods for conducting analysis.

What surprised you most about the online learning environment?

It was a lot more like the traditional programs where you are expected to physically be in a location for class, minus the transportation time. I expected the online program to be read book, submit assignment, receive feedback, repeat, but it was better. You learn content on your own time, review it in class for clarification, submit assignments, receive feedback, and repeat. And the whole thing was interactive. 

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Commit and get started. There is something for everyone to learn. And I am sure you will make some new friends by the end.

Learn more about DataScience@SMU students by visiting our class profile.