Data scientists in great demand

In the last two years, data analysis has been rated as the top job in the world, according to Jeffrey Strickland, a data scientist, and adjunct faculty from George Washington University, United States.

Professor Strickland is now teaching a month-long course in Data Analytics for post- graduate students of VIT University. “The role of a data scientist is to get relevant data, turn it into information for better decision,” he told reporters during an interaction on Thursday. For the last two years, the job of data scientists had been rated as number one in the world, he added.

The field, according to him, had great prospects. “However, presently, there is inadequate number of data scientists in the world. It is a multi-disciplinary job as candidates require skills in computer science, mathematics and statistics. There is a great demand for data scientists now,” he added.

On the skills required by data scientists, he said the debate whether the scientists required skills or conceptual knowledge was still on. “One school says data scientists require skills to work with tools, while another school of thought says they need to understand conceptual ideas. I would say they need both,” Professor Strickland, who has served in the United States Military for 24 years, said.

He added that data scientists needed to understand concepts and also know how tools worked. “They need to apply the right technique for arriving at a solution,” he observed. Internationally, there was a qualification exam too to certify professional analysts, he noted. One of the main challenges for data scientists was security of data. “They should know ways to make data more secure. There could be breaches in security and they should know how to keep it secure,” he said.

On his experience of teaching students in India and the USA, he said there was no difference between the two groups. “Students here are very informed and have knowledge about the subject. They have a higher level of thought and prepare for classes,” he said.

Aswani Kumar Cherukuri, professor and dean, School of Information Technology and Engineering, VIT University, said the international faculty member was teaching fourth year students of the five-year integrated programme – M. Tech Software Engineering - from September 1 to 30.

“Our school already has 10 adjunct faculty members from USA, Australia, Japan and Europe. The aim is to provide students the expertise of the international faculty members,” he said.