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KM education: Data science takes the lead. By Judith Lamont

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Category: Education & Training Published: Sunday, 02 April 2017 09:35
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KMWorld: "The term “data scientist” has been around for a decade, and the job function has existed even longer, but only recently has awareness really hit the mainstream. The primary reason for its growing relevance is the need to analyze large amounts of data. With a combination of heavy-duty technical skills, proficiency in analyzing big data and an orientation toward extracting value from complex data environments, data scientists are in a good position to pick and choose from a large number of job opportunities"

Quote:

The term “data scientist” has been around for a decade, and the job function has existed even longer, but only recently has awareness really hit the mainstream. The primary reason for its growing relevance is the need to analyze large amounts of data. With a combination of heavy-duty technical skills, proficiency in analyzing big data and an orientation toward extracting value from complex data environments, data scientists are in a good position to pick and choose from a large number of job opportunities.

Demand for data scientists stems from a large range of complex business needs, greater volumes of data (especially customer-related data) and organizations’ belief that they should be getting more value from what is stored in their repositories. People who can connect the dots, grasping both the business issues and advanced analytical techniques, are in short supply. With job postings increasing up to 60 percent per year, the supply will lag demand for some time.

While relatively rare five years ago, graduate programs in data science have been springing up at a steady clip, and individuals who are seeking an academic background in the field have a growing range of options. Students often enter programs mid-career, to build on existing experience and provide new opportunities. Because they are often established in a geographical region and hold a job already, many students opt for a part-time, online program. The career paths of two such students at the data science program at Indiana University (indiana.edu) are described here.

Technical and practical

After majoring in biology and chemistry, Sara Marie Bigelow landed a job in a lab analyzing samples for an oil company. Wanting to advance her career, she began looking into certificate programs in data science. “I have always been interested in the results side of science and how to interpret data,” says Bigelow. “Data science seemed like a good avenue to pursue.” She found a program at the School of Informatics & Computing at Indiana University in Bloomington. While completing the certificate program, she was invited to apply for the newly developed master’s program in data science, which was about to be launched. 

The master’s program was offered either on campus or online, and Bigelow’s situation was more compatible with the latter. Working full time and studying part time was demanding but manageable. Her courses included big data in drug discovery, visualization, scientific and clinical database management, data semantics related to the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing. “I took a lot of technical courses but also wanted the practical side, so that I could make a business impact,” Bigelow says. She finished the 30-credit program in two years.

Healthcare seemed particularly appealing, and after completing an internship at Eli Lilly and Company, she was offered a job. Her work as an intern centered around process improvement and text analytics, directed toward action items to improve clinical trial processes. In her full-time position, she is a clinical data associate for biomedicines, data sciences and solutions at Lilly and provides leadership for data management activities in clinical trials.

She also continues to maintain a relationship with her department at Indiana University, where she has been a guest lecturer. “The program is fantastic, and I wanted to give back,” she explains. In 2016, she won an Innovator Award from Lilly for facilitating collaboration between Lilly’s data sciences department and Indiana University’s data sciences program. 

Expanding existing skills [...]

Read full article on KMWorld Magazine Articles

About the Author:

Judith Lamont, Ph. D. is a research analyst and a KMWorld Senior Writer
 
Online Master's in Information Design and Strategy: Learn to drive effective digital communication 
Northwestern University School of Professional Studies

Copyright: angellodeco / 123RF Stock Photo

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