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Science for the future: AUS launches minor in data science
American University of Sharjah (AUS) prepares its students for the digital age with a range of initiatives, including a new minor in data science launched this semester. Any undergraduate student can pursue the minor, regardless of the degree they are seeking. The minor in data science allows students to investigate and apply the essentials of data science, a field of increasing importance to all sectors, from medicine and marketing to space exploration and engineering.
The minor in data science accompanies other programs already on offer at the university that are linked to this emerging and rapidly changing new discipline. These include the Department of Marketing and Information Systems’ newly updated courses in data visualization and business analytics, and the College of Engineering’s Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and minor in computer science.
Companies dealing with data — Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple — are some of the biggest and most powerful in the world. Data has been described as the economy’s “new oil,” fueling new sources of revenue and launching new career opportunities for graduates keen to utilize their knowledge of mathematics, statistics and programming in a practical way. Those with data science training are needed for developing systems for the collection, storing, managing and analyzing data to allow organizations to make data-driven decisions. Organizations are therefore now employing those with data science backgrounds in number of different capacities; business intelligence developers, data architects, machine learning engineers and infrastructure architects are just some of the well-compensated roles to which a data science qualification can lead.
For AUS graduate Kevin Rose Dias, the study of data science at AUS has led to opportunities in the Middle East and Canada, where he is now a senior data analyst. He says his AUS education provided “a goal-oriented management perspective to solve data science problems… courses such as strategic and marketing management enable me to recommend data-driven, business-accepted changes that have proven to increase revenue and return on investment.”
According to Dr. Jeff Baker of AUS’ Department of Marketing and Information Systems, a background in data science opens up career options in many different fields:
"Graduates with an understanding of business intelligence — including topics such as machine learning, text analytics and data visualization — are some of the most in-demand candidates in today’s job market. Whether students are looking for jobs globally or regionally, an understanding of how to acquire, analyze and interpret big data is an increasingly essential skill. The AUS Department of Marketing and Information Systems' new courses in business analytics and data visualization, and updated courses such as Digital Marketing and Digital Security, are helping students prepare to make data-driven decisions whether they choose to work for the government, a multinational, a family business or even launch their own company."
Given the importance of data science to almost all our interactions with technology, the demand for data scientists is likely to continue growing, feeding an already short supply. A 2018 LinkedIn study found that there was a shortage of more than 150,000 people with data science skills in the United States alone. Dr. Hana Sulieman, Head of AUS’ Department of Mathematics and Statistics, says AUS is actively building capacity in the data science community:
“As big data explodes, so do the opportunities it presents. Corporations and governments across the world are seeking out talented data scientists to better understand these opportunities and ensure that their organizations are beneficiaries — and not losers — of the data revolution. As a result, data scientists are in high demand, as are managers who can comprehend data, and use it to make decisions advantageous to their organization. Data scientists are in short supply across the globe, with an acute shortage in the Middle East. Having courses dedicated to data science should see an increase in the number of highly qualified candidates applying for data science positions over the coming years.”
For current AUS student Khalid AlQasimi, the study of data is an opportunity to be a part of a novel field that is constantly changing:
“In the era of big data, data sets can uncover truths that we would never see conventionally. The wealth of information now available to us through big data — and the potential impact of this information — is transforming society. I am excited to see where this industry goes.”