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Let’s (Not) Leave Data Science to the Computer Science Students

Guest blog written by Aidan Wallace who undertook his MSc in Big Data at University of Stirling 

When anyone first hears the words “data science” come up in conversation they probably assume it is an extension of computing science or mathematics that is largely reserved for computing scientists, mathematicians and statisticians that already have an advanced level of programming skills and a great computational knowledge to call upon. Whilst these skills will help it is important not to view data science as computing science with a different jacket on but as a distinct entity in and of itself and it is open to people from all types of educational and career backgrounds.

My discovery of data science

My own journey into data science was considerably lacking in terms of anything remotely resembling a computing science degree or computing science background for instance. During high school I pursued the three sciences and never pursued computing at any level of qualification nor really gave much thought to a career involving computers in a major way. After leaving high school I completed an undergraduate degree in cell biology where I was briefly introduced to the power computation and computational analytics can play within a lab environment, this led onto to me discovering what data science really was and subsequently enrolling on a data science focused masters in Big Data for my journey into data science to truly begin.

Throughout the masters I realized not only how beneficial data science can be within a number of industries but also how beneficial previous industry knowledge would be to someone wishing to pursue a career in data science. One of the beauties of data science is that it can dovetail into your current work, or you can take the experience you have gained in previous jobs and easily apply it in a data science setting. If you have worked in each industry for 10 years as an engineer and then choose to go into data science, you are able to understand the data surrounding engineering problems from a uniquely well-informed perspective seeing past the numbers and into a much more reflective true business understanding of what the data means.

Why not choose data?

It is at this crucial bridging point that the Data Lab funded MSc program is able to take eager students of data science who may or may not have previous industry knowledge and inject them into businesses to solve real world problems with the skills they have learned. Almost every industry can be seen to have problems that can be addressed through data science, therefore leaving data science to the computing scientists has the potential for thousands of real-world problems to remain unsolved despite the data science skills needed to solve them being at everyone’s fingertips. For this reason, I urge everyone even if you have not considered data science as an option for yourself to try it as you never know the benefits it could bring to yourself and the industry in which you work.

As the world has changed with the impact of coronavirus many businesses have been forced to change also. Businesses are still recovering with the prospect of redundancies and cost-cutting measures being on their minds, in this uncertain time many may find themselves out of work and looking to pursue a new career path… and why not choose data science, many do not realise the previous work they have done will be incredibly useful in adding real world experience and context around the data and this unique perspective coupled with newly attained knowledge could be just what is needed to tackle a given problem.

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