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spective that a company like IBM can bring: what's hap-
pening in the enterprise world."
Part of that context is recognizing the difference between
the traditional college-level study of data systems and the
emerging discipline of data science.
"Traditionally, college courses in data management have
been about managing relational databases---in other words,
structured data," explains Bhambhri. "But Big Data is most-
ly unstructured. For students coming out of undergrad and
grad programs today with an interest in this stuff, it's impor-
tant they understand that taking courses that teach them
how to manage, analyze, and report on structured data is
not going to be sufficient. It won't give them the right skill
set. They have to find a course of study that can help them
get their arms around the unstructured world."
The Northwestern-IBM relationship is not unique. In May,
the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Labora-
tory (CSAIL) at MIT unveiled a research initiative called
bigdata@CSAIL. At the same time, Intel announced the es-
tablishment of an Intel Science and Technology Center for
Big Data at CSAIL. The computer chip maker is expected
to contribute $2.5 million per year for up to five years to
support the research center.
In August, Louisiana State University announced a collab-
oration with SAS, maker of business analytics software. The
two organizations partnered to launch a Master of Science in
Analytics in the school's Department of Information Systems
and Decision Sciences (ISDS), which is part of the E.J. Ourso
College of Business. The university describes the program as
a combined effort between ISDS and the Department of Ex-
perimental Statistics. Students in a pilot program during the
2011-2012 school year were able to apply "cutting-edge
SAS software to real-world data and challenges."
In addition to financial support, SAS provides LSU with
experts to conduct on-site training, and hosts LSU faculty
at the company's North Carolina headquarters. A SAS edu-
cation expert serves on LSU's Industry Advisory Board, and
the school gets free access to SAS software and teach-
ing materials through SAS OnDemand for Academics. The
school reports that all 38 of the first class of students to
complete the new LSU program found employment within
weeks of graduation, in companies ranging from Amazon to
Bank of America and, of course, SAS.
Given that the lack of Big Data skills is being felt first in
the corporate world, it's not surprising that companies such
as IBM, Intel, and SAS are sponsoring programs to pro-
duce graduates who can help them with their growing data
challenges. It also doesn't hurt that these companies make
products that they'd like these graduates to use.
The USF program also benefits from the school's close
relationship with local businesses. In fact, students work at
various local companies throughout the yearlong program.
Some of these internships are paid positions. "Companies
have been very interested in working with our students,"
Parr says. "They get a low-risk way to check them out and
find someone who'll really fit."
A Bright Future for Graduates
USF found its own low-risk way to provide its MS Analytics
students with experience accessing and managing remote
servers. The school has worked closely with Amazon Web Ser-
vices (AWS), a division of Amazon that delivers IT infrastructure
services in the cloud, to give all students their own virtual serv-
ers and on-demand access to compute resources.4
DATA SCIENCE PIONEERS
Obviously, the University of San Francisco (CA) isn't alone
in its efforts to provide degree programs in data science
to meet the needs of business. In addition to the schools
profiled in this article, North Carolina State University has
offered an advanced degree in analytics since 2007. Master
of Science degrees in analytics or business analytics are
currently offered by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville;
New York University; Fordham University (NY); Drexel
University (PA); the University of Maryland at College
Park; Michigan State University; Arizona State University;
the University of Texas at Austin; DePaul University (IL);
and the University of Denver (CO), among others.
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