Big Data Era Creates Demand for New Breed of Scientist

With mountains of Big Data piling up, it’s no surprise that the need for Big Data scientists is also increasing, and that universities are responding to the need with new training programs. The University of Washington, which offers a Big Data Ph.D., is one of several programs featured in a story today by New York Times tech reporter Claire Cain Miller.

(Image via Shutterstock)
(Image via Shutterstock)
(Image via Shutterstock)

With mountains of Big Data piling up, it’s no surprise that the need for Big Data scientists is also increasing, and that universities are responding to the need with new training programs. The University of Washington, which offers a Big Data Ph.D., is one of several programs featured in a story today by New York Times tech reporter Claire Cain Miller.

The Harvard Business Review’s assessment that a data scientist’s job is the century’s “sexiest” is debatable, but as Miller reports, “this hot new field promises to revolutionize industries from business to government, health care to academia.”

One example is the New York Genome Center, which promises to generate petabytes of data at its new DNA sequencing facility in Manhattan. The organization has said it will have 500 jobs open, mostly for bioinformatics scientists, in the coming five years, and describes on its website “what it takes to be a bioinformatician.”

Columbia University, also in New York, recently established an Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering and says each of its six centers—for cybersecurity, health analytics, financial analytics, new media, smart cities, and “foundations in data science”—”will be a source of technology projects with high commercialization potential.”

Miller points to McKinsey research that projects a shortage of 190,000 data scientists by 2018 and writes, “universities can hardly turn out data scientists fast enough.” Considering the rate at which every industry is churning out data, it seems like a losing battle.

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