Written by Laurie McLaughlin
The demand for data scientists is increasing exponentially, and Mihaylo College professors want to ensure students are prepared to take advantage of these career opportunities.
“Data mining and analysis is one of the areas with explosive demand,” says Rahul Bhaskar, an information systems and decision sciences professor at Mihaylo. “To augment what they learn in the classroom, I conduct special classes on the weekends to train students in the required tools and techniques.”
SAS Inc. is among the leading companies in the business intelligence industry and represents a majority share of the data science market. Bhaskar uses the company’s programs to teach students, because the SAS Inc. tools are what they are most likely to encounter in the professional arena.
“I have been interested in data mining and data analytics since I started my master’s program,” says computer science graduate student Kiet Nguyen ’14. “Dr. Bhaskar teaches statistical background techniques and how to apply them using SAS software, which provides excellent tools to analyze data. Technology is growing very quickly, and there is constantly more data waiting to be analyzed.
“I’ve heard that ‘data is the new oil,’ and the data-analysis skills I’ve learned will be a great asset when I begin job-hunting. As a student, understanding how things are done from a business perspective is invaluable.”
In January, Nguyen seized the opportunity to gain more knowledge in text mining and data visualization at a free two-day workshop, which Bhaskar and the Center for Information Technology and Analytics organized on campus. SAS Inc. provided all of the materials and meals for the more than 50 attendees.
“The workshop attracted people from all over the country – from South Dakota to Texas and from Washington, D.C., to Utah,” says Catherine Atwong, an associate professor of marketing at Mihaylo, who attended the workshop. “I was very impressed that 80 percent of the attendees were faculty from other universities.”
This type of ongoing education gives faculty statistical techniques and tools to support their research, says Bhaskar. “A company like SAS exposes our faculty to the latest methods of training, and this is knowledge they pass on to their students,” he adds. “Classes in marketing, finance, information systems and decision sciences, and many other fields use data analytics to teach principles within their respective subjects.”
Attendees to the Mihaylo workshop hailed from more than 15 institutions, including Georgetown University, Brigham Young University, University of Maryland and University of Southern California. “The event provided valuable exposure to Mihaylo College and the level of quality scholarship we provide,” says Bhaskar.
Bhaskar says that the center plans to work with companies like SAS Inc. and others to plan similar workshops in the future.
To learn more about this job industry, visit the Center for Information Technology and Business Analytics.