Unlocking the secrets of a technology driven world - New BSc in Data Science

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In an increasingly technology-driven world, we are inundated on a daily basis with data that, at first glance, appears too complex to decode.  Data analytics allows us to mine and harness these rich seams of information for insights that can improve our lives in a myriad of ways - helping businesses understand customer behaviour, improving healthcare at personal and global levels, feedback to enhance athlete performance, helping science and research unlock the secrets of our universe, detecting and preventing cyber attacks or fraud, and creating smarter cities and countries.

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, which advises the Irish government on current and future skills needs of the country, reports that there could be an estimated 21,000 potential job openings in Big Data and Analytics skills by 2020. 

Set in the context of an international report from McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) which estimates that, by 2018 the United States will experience a shortage of 190,000 skilled data scientists, and 1.5 million managers and analysts capable of reaping actionable insights from the big data deluge - an estimated 40,000 exabytes of data being collected by 2020 - the implications of this shortage become apparent.

In response to this and, in keeping with its reputation for developing expertise in areas of major technological significance, Dublin City University has announced two new initiatives - the country’s first BSc in Data Science and the AIB Chair in Data Analytics.

Speaking at the launch of the new BSc in Data Science at DCU, Una Halligan, Chair of the Expert Group said,

“We have to focus on the needs of graduates and avoid situations where they are graduating with skills in the wrong areas.  Data analytics is part of the Action Plan for Jobs and is an area in which Ireland aspires to be a leader. The requirement for data analytics is evident across all sectors with 21, 000 positions required in this sector up to 2020, 3,630 of these opportunities in the deep analytical discipline.  Industry involvement with DCU in the creation of this programme has been so important, as it engages everyone as stakeholders in the future of graduates, in the future needs of this country.”

The DCU BSc in Data Science will provide an elite set of graduates with the necessary combination of analytical,technical, numerical and business skills required to work across areas of economic activity key to Ireland’s strategic interests, including ICT, Finance, Biomedical and Agri-food.

DCU President, Professor Brian MacCraith explained,

“It is vital that universities play a role in responding to the major challenges faced by this country and we have a responsibility to provide our students with the skills necessary to flourish in a rapidly-changing world, particularly in the area of employability.  We are swimming in a sea of data with 90% of the world’s data having been created in the last 12 months and 10 exabytes of data being created every day.  Extracting value from all this data is of crucial importance and data scientists are key to that process.  By engaging with our partners - IBM, Intel, Accenture, SAS and OpenNet - we have co-created a ‘living’ degree which will benefit from domain-specific, contemporary insights from industry, thus guaranteeing the relevance of the programme to workplace needs.”

Partnering with Allied Irish Banks, the university is also establishing the AIB Chair in Data Analytics to lead academic and research developments in this rapidly expanding discipline.  The position will be based in DCU’s School of Computing building on a strong reputation for excellence in research and in teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.  The School is strongly research active and staff members play a key role in a number of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centres, including the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Ireland’s largest ever research initiative.

The Chair is funded by AIB through the university’s Shaping the Future campaign which aims to raise €100m euro for a range of strategic initiatives such as its Leaders in Knowledge Creation project.  Through this human capital project, DCU will maintain and grow its reputation for academic excellence alongside an established international research profile.  A similar appointment is the Prometric-funded Chair in Assessment at DCU’s Institute of Education, a new centre of excellence in education research which will continually inform teacher training programmes and transform future teaching practice in Ireland.