Occupation: Data scientist at Kratos Defense and Security Solutions
Education: B.S. in engineering from Harvey Mudd College
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a Southern California native currently living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I earned my bachelor’s degree in engineering from Harvey Mudd College and worked in the semiconductor industry for five years. In my spare time, I enjoy cycling and the outdoors.
What initially attracted you to the data science field?
I’ve always had an affinity for data analysis, and seeing big data grow over the last couple of years encouraged me to pursue a career in data science. It is one of the professions in which we can mix our programming, statistical and domain knowledge to reach actionable conclusions. More importantly, being able to consolidate various sources of data to tell a compelling story is another reason I was attracted to data science.
Why did you decide to pursue a Master of Science in Data Science?
I felt that I needed more structure in my independent studies. There are many online courses out there, but to me, they seem to lack a comprehensive approach to the study of data science. I felt that I needed to gain an understanding of databases, data processing tools, statistics and visualization skills to develop myself as a data scientist, and I was able to learn these skills through the DataScience@SMU program.
Why did you choose DataScience@SMU?
SMU’s program offered a comprehensive approach to the study of data science. The program offers a solid grounding in statistics, which is then emphasized in many of the class projects that we undertake. The curriculum also includes visualization, database management and data security coursework. Additionally, the student support staff is welcoming, and they were helpful during the application process.
Which skills and tools that the program covers do you find most appealing? Why?
The first two terms strongly emphasize the statistical concepts. Here, we learned about the underlying assumptions that we must consider before jumping to conclusions. I think this is very important because without these checks, it is very easy to lead oneself or others astray – especially when the analysis is directly tied to business or other critical systems. The data mining and visualization courses strengthened my programming skills and taught me best practices.
How are you able to apply what you are learning to your current position?
I recently joined a company looking to expand its data acquisition and data management processes. Given that the DataScience@SMU program covers topics in database management, data mining and data security, I am confident that the skills I have acquired will help us reach our goals.
What surprised you most about the online learning environment?
When I started the program, I was not sure what to expect. Many would argue that an on-site experience cannot be matched, but in my experience thus far, the online environment provides enough flexibility without giving me the feeling that I would be missing out if I were in an on-site program.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
If you enjoy statistics, programming and telling a good story with data, then this is the field to be in. It is a rapidly growing field in which your data science skill set can be applied across various industries to tackle a wide variety of problems.