Big data analytics, artificial intelligence and deep learning are undergoing multiple disruptions in functioning with the amount of data generated. One of the major challenges for enterprise today entails learning how to deal with new types of data and determining which information can potentially provide value to the business. The Business Intelligence and Data Analytics Program at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy offers a cutting-edge academic program to train the next generation of data scientists for solving real-world data problems faced by industries globally.
Carnegie Mellon University is a global research university known for its world-class, interdisciplinary programs. The university stands among the world’s most renowned educational institutions and sets its own course. In 2012, Carnegie Mellon University launched a master’s program in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics (BIDA) from its Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy to inculcate value-based education into the emerging field of analytics, forging experts that change the way companies do business around the world.
The comprehensive curriculum of BIDA includes advanced analytics coursework in machine learning, structured and unstructured data analytics and predictive modeling. Integrated with core technology coursework and experiential learning, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy’s BIDA course aims to arm aspirants with the expertise to become an influencer at any organization.
The BIDA pathway at Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy is offered in two formats, as the standard 16-month program, which includes an internship, and a new 12-month BIDA program for students with the significant professional experience of a minimum three years.
Transforming Analytics and Big Data Education
From 2012, since Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy launched the master’s program in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics (BIDA), the program has seen remarkable success. It was named as the top Analytics education program by INFORMS, the world’s largest industry and academic society, in 2016. This program was born, not out of Carnegie Mellon University’s business school, but rather from its School of Information Systems. The college believes that core computer science skills are a pre-requisite for competent data scientists. The College leadership team believed and industry partners validated, that data is usually incomplete, in disparate systems or just wrong so the ability to manipulate data to make it “analysis ready” is fundamental. In summary, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy’s coursework imparts essential technical skills, which prepares students to glean clean insight in the messiest real-world conditions.
Jon Nehlsen is Associate Dean at Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Jon is a graduate of the Heinz program described here and deployed those skills in Fortune 50 and government settings. He also holds an MBA degree from the Wharton School and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Villanova University.
Creating Business Impact
Jon believes that AI and related technologies have become pervasive in business. Functionally, they have the power to impact HR processes, marketing, manufacturing, and finance. While there is some concern about AI replacing workers, the domain has seen some very exciting innovation in collaborative AI-driven technologies that boost human productivity. Robot exo-skeletons in manufacturing plants is an example. In this case, blue collar workers are assisted by technology to do jobs that are otherwise dull, dirty or dangerous. This is just one example, but there are many others, where AI-backed technologies are creating a business impact. Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy has launched the Block Center for Technology and Society to study the broad impacts of AI on human work, both positive and negative.
Fostering an Advantageous Edge
In executing a world-class analytics program, the college has a couple of natural advantages. Many of the analytical technologies that are changing organizations have been invented or are being perfected at Carnegie Mellon University. The college’s programs have adjacency to that pioneering work. In addition, the educational approach is an advantage. Many students come to the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy with some prior technical training. The college essentially extends those technical skills, but it is important that they do not start from zero. To that, deep coursework in analytics is added and topped up with management skills. Writing, speaking, negotiating skills, being able to tell stories effectively, and working cross-functionally are all of the essential inputs in the industry that is collaborated in the coursework curriculum. Finally, the students get a lot of practice. The college has been fortunate to count many of the finest and most recognizable companies in the world as its partners, providing practical experiences and projects to students. This presents students with the opportunity to know what it means to apply their skills long before they graduate.
Conquering Challenges for Academic Gains
Jon foresees multiple challenges with AI and its future impacts. So-called “winner take all” markets in which a single business captures all of the economic value available has implications for workers and society. Pundits debate whether today’s dominant technology firms exhibit that characteristic but the inability of even very large firms to compete on search with Google suggest a strong possibility. Privacy and security are the other very weighty concerns. The trade-off between civil liberties and convenience is difficult for consumers to make optimally as the latter is plain and the former is conceptual and often distant. Greater data collection and connectivity (which enable analytics) also presents possibilities for cascading failures in physical and social infrastructure. In short, the efficiency and convenience offered by technology are not costless.
Achievements that Inspire
Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy is very proud that INFORMS, the world’s largest analytics society, has honored the college as the top education program in analytics with the George D. Smith Prize in 2016. But perhaps more important is that Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy’s program continues to grow tremendously each year, as do the number of opportunities and median salaries of its graduates. In 2014, the college launched a similar master’s program from its public policy school that teaches similar skills to students interested in working in public-oriented fields such as governments, think tanks and NGO’s. That program has enjoyed a similar trajectory as the other programmes.
Journey that Speaks More than Words
Jon asserts that the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy is proud of its graduate students who are placed with fantastic jobs in the most notable companies in the world, with consistent salary growth and increased satisfaction levels. Jon concludes by adding that he and his teams are very pleased with where the coursework and the college are positioned.