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Texas Tech University: Today’s data science students, tomorrow’s leaders

Data science is a field that is experiencing rapid growth and change, making it increasingly hard for organisations to keep up with the latest tools and techniques. They’re in need of data science graduates — especially those who hold a Master’s in Data Science (MSDS) from the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University. This programme was specifically designed to equip students with the technical expertise needed to lead in the digital frontier.

Texas Tech University

Source: Texas Tech University

It was the best choice for Ryan Oldakowski, who realised his calling to be an IT Project manager whilst just an undergraduate at Texas Tech. His Bachelor of Business Administration in Information Technology helped him develop a better understanding of all essential future-focused disciplines, from systems analysis and design to networking and database management — all of which are principles one must grasp to find a place at the intersection of business and technology.

The competitive skill set he developed during this period prepared him to take on the full MSDS experience with confidence. The 36-hour, STEM-designated programme revolved around teaching him to manage, analyse and understand complex data, in order to make strategic decisions across a range of business sectors and settings. Classes cover: Multivariate Analysis, Scripting Languages, Database Concepts, Data Technology Environments, Big Data Strategy, Business Intelligence, Time Series Analysis, Simulation and Optimisation, Decision Theory and Business Analytics, Big Data Security, Statistics for Data Science, and Machine Learning.

Assistant professor Yuan Jin conducts Machine Learning lessons while studying the economics and knowledge management of online platforms based on various data and models — a prime example of how MSDS faculty members utilise their real-world endevours to inspire their instruction.

“The Machine Learning course in the MSDS programme focuses on the fundamental theories and real-world applications of various machine learning techniques,” explains Jin.

“The objective of this course is to guide machine learning techniques and data mining algorithms that encompass different analytic processes. It covers the most common data mining tasks and typical machine learning techniques. By learning these algorithms, students will master how to deliver predictive models that conduct major data mining tasks, including classification, prediction, and more advanced learning tasks. Upon completing this course, students will not only establish a managerial mindset for data mining and machine learning, but also develop technical skills for most practical needs.”

Graduate Oldakowski credits the Statistics for Data Science class for boosting his career-readiness. “Dr. Eric Brown did a masterful job teaching this course within the time constraint of the flexible one-year MSDS course,” he says. “I feel prepared in any situation my job throws at me regarding statistical computation.”

The flexibility Oldakowski speaks of is the fact that all MSDS students are free to choose if they would like to complete their degree in as little as a year; or if they would prefer to take fewer classes per semester by choosing the online, two-year option. However little or much time students choose to spend on campus, is entirely up to them, thanks to Texas Tech’s ability to offer robust online delivery. In fact, the university ranks third in the US for having the best online Master’s in Data Science programme, according to Fortune.

Texas Tech University

Source: Texas Tech University

Today, Oldakowski, a graduate, flexes his newfound skills at KPMG in its Lighthouse Department for the Cloud and Software Engineering Group. “My team is MuleSoft focused — MuleSoft is a low code environment focusing on the creation of APIs and integration of systems,” he says.

When he was ready to take his first steps into the working world, Oldakowski turned to the  Rawls Career Management Centre for resume guidance. Established in 2003, the CMC was developed to empower students by providing expert coaching, workshops and events; reviewing resumes; conducting mock interviews; hosting etiquette dinners; as well as conducting on-campus interviews and career fairs — each of which brings in over 150 esteemed employers from across the US.

Such resources come in especially handy for international students keen on living and working in the US — the MSDS’s STEM designation makes it possible. This status means that upon completion, international graduates may qualify to work in the US — under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme — for up to three years after receiving their degrees.

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