Brian Mente

Location: Dallas, Texas

Occupation: Sr. Market Analyst at 5 (check us out at www.energyby5.com)

Education: BS in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M


Tell us about yourself.

I’m a current resident of northwest Dallas, about 15 minutes away from the SMU campus. Both my wife and I grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, so this is home for us, and we have a lot of family in the area. My undergraduate degree is in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M University, but after six years in the defense industry, I became interested in renewable energy and electricity markets and made a career change to the energy industry.

What initially attracted you to the data science field?

The interdisciplinary nature of the data science field is very attractive to me. It’s a field that really seems to demand that you not just be technically proficient, but also an effective communicator. That’s a challenging place to be, and I feel those people are going to be very valuable employees in the future. Additionally, there are so many different aspects to being a data scientist, and it evolves so quickly, that I felt it was a good field for someone like me who enjoys learning new things and doesn’t want to stagnate in solving the same problems over and over again.

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

I felt this field was the best way to invest in my current company and help us make a successful leap from a startup to healthy growing business. The degree is currently helping me fill the holes I had in my skill set, like databases and statistical analysis, that come with changing industries in the middle of your career and learning things on the job.

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

The programming skills we develop are very valuable, especially given how versatile Python can be in every step of the process. The rigorous statistics groundwork laid in the first few semesters is so important to understanding what you can and can’t do with a particular set of data. Finally, the data visualization course really got me thinking much more creatively about visualizing data. That is one part of the program that is very different from others I’ve seen out there.

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

I’ve really tried to double dip as much as possible in terms of getting a grade for projects I have to get done anyway for work. I’d recommend taking that approach; I feel like I’ve benefited by working with data that I’m very familiar with to solve real business problems our company faces.

What has surprised you most about the online learning environment?

I’ve really been surprised how much easier it is to stay on track and organized with the online environment. I never waste time trying to find out where I left off, or searching notebooks for what assignments or projects are due when. It makes the learning process very efficient, in my opinion. You spend a lot less time concerned about administrative details, and more time working on and learning the material.

What do you hope to accomplish with a Master of Science in Data Science?

In the short term, I want to bring a competitive advantage to our small company that allows us to reach the goals that we have set for ourselves. In the long term, I’d love to continue to be associated with the program here at SMU. I think this field is going to be so crucial for companies in the future, and I’d love to be involved with how it grows and changes.

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