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The Data Lab MSc: Being prepared for life in the world of data science

Posted on January 18, 2019

Roger Adams, currently studying an MSc in Data Science for Business at Stirling, tells us how the course is helping him to get immersed in the world of data science

I write this on the train back to Dundee having just finished my last exam of the autumn semester (Big Data: Commercial & Scientific Applications). The culmination of an intense 3-month period which has thrown up some academic and personal challenges.

I was working in the energy industry for local government but was looking for a career change; something that would satisfy my inquisitive nature, my interest in economics and big data, and which would allow me some spare time to complete my PhD. The Data Lab were so encouraging, suggesting their funded MSc Programme which could provide the perfect launch pad for my academic and career ambitions.

The seed was planted and a couple of months later I found myself in LT6 of the Cottrell Building being inducted into the University of Stirling’s Management School to study MSc Data Science for Business.

There is a real sense of being prepared for life after university and the move into the world of data science.

It was the perfect entry point for me as it would utilise my career experience. The course bridges the gap between communicating the business value of data and the more technical aspects like data analytics and programming, and, being supported by The Data Lab - as well as MBN Solutions and the university’s careers and personal development teams - there is a real sense of being prepared for life after university and the move into the world of data science.

The coursework has been challenging; the group assignments push you to collaborate with a variety of personalities and to rely on one another and achieve as a team. The best part about the group projects was the opportunity to work with students from other courses; economics, behavioural science and big data, which encouraged a diverse approach to tackling the problems presented to us.

The workload has been relentless; I have a job, and a family, and so finding spare time to study took a bit of ingenuity. Studying at the dining table after the kids have gone to bed, the library Sunday mornings, even listening to Lynda.com on the train home helped me keep on top of things – anything really to get the work done.

The ones that get the most out of this course will be those who seek out knowledge outside of class time

It was made clear to us at the start of the semester that the ones that get the most out of this course will be those who seek out knowledge outside of class time. Whether its Lynda.com, TED Talks, or just reading articles online, this approach has really accelerated my learning and made understanding course material that bit easier.

The group projects have been stimulating. An example was the Business Analytics assignment which required our team to assess the productivity of a manufacturing facility and provide recommendations to management concerning future improvements to productivity, efficiency and quality. This project required the team to produce a simulated model of production using Simul8 software.

It hasn't all been hard work

But it’s not all been simulation models, multiple regression and process mapping. There has been time for socialising and getting to know my classmates.

The people I have met have made the past 3 months such good fun. My classmates are a good bunch who have made an impact on me and made this a really enjoyable experience. They are an excellent blend of abilities, skills and backgrounds making for heated debate and challenging yet enjoyable projects. Whether a strong personality or someone who prefers to stay in the background, we have developed a real comradery in and out of class. If you’re struggling there is always someone there to give support or advice.

There are others that deserve a mention. The university staff take a personal interest in your career ambitions and the course is presented with this in mind. They have allowed me freedom to attend class around my work and family commitments, which has been invaluable to me. The Data Lab and MBN Solutions have provided a career focus and impetus for personal development, offering up opportunities for networking and always pushing us to immerse ourselves in the world of data science; at their insistence, I now regularly attend data and technology meet-ups and have met some amazing people as a result.

I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for when I applied for this course, but I’m so glad I did. There have been challenges, but I’ve made it to the Christmas break, and with morale high. I’m now looking forward to the next semester with excitement of new experiences to come.

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