IBM recently partnered with the University of Liverpool to help them offer a unique workshop that augments their new MSc in Data Science and AI program.
The Department of Computer Science at the University of Liverpool recently introduced a new course — "MSc in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence" — as a direct response to the national shortage of Data Science and AI practitioners, particularly from underrepresented groups (i.e., female, Black and disabled students) within the Computer Science industry and the Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) field.
The MSc Data Science and AI program is designed to provide students with non-computer science backgrounds with the necessary technical knowledge and skills required to take up rewarding careers within the Data Science industry and seek out interdisciplinary career opportunities.
A central element of the program is that it offers paid work placements and input from industry leaders in terms of program development, delivery and monitoring. The program allows students to build on their existing undergraduate degrees and up-skill their portfolio of abilities, in the context of Data Science and AI.
To help launch the new program, Martin Gairing and Frans Coenen from the University of Liverpool organised a bootcamp-style workshop where students could enhance their theoretical knowledge with hands-on, industry-focused experience — but they needed help providing that real-life experience.
Expert Labs provides career insights and hands-on data experience
IBM Expert Labs enthusiastically agreed to partner with the workshop, providing the University with IBM’s OpenDS4All education modules and bringing in an IBM data expert from Expert Labs — Hamza Aagli, Manager of the Data Science and AI Elite Team — to provide meaningful insights into the career of a data scientist.
Aagli gave students an idea of the tools and techniques within Data Science and AI they could expect to use upon graduation and emphasized the significance of Data Science and AI in commercial, social and global contexts.
The bootcamp was opened to students from other related programs, including MSc Big Data and High-Performance Computing. The students were given hands-on experience in data wrangling, where they collected and processed data from various sources and learned how to run Jupyter notebooks on IBM’s cloud platform, Watson Studio.
This valuable experience will help the students gain a practical new angle to their course materia and can enhance their future career prospects.
After the workshop was completed, the feedback collected from students was overwhelmingly positive, with students highlighting the practical experience and emphasis on career insights.
The students can use what they learned during the workshop in their senior capstone projects and their future careers. Students also greatly enjoyed the opportunity to hear from a real-life data scientist at IBM, which provided them with tangible insights into what a real career in Data Science looks like. They also gained valuable experience working on a cloud platform (Watson Studio), which gave them useful work experience.
Looking ahead: providing students with usable career experience
The University of Liverpool’s vision for the future is that students who complete the new MSc program will have all the necessary skills and knowledge to apply the tools and techniques of AI (using a range of industry standard systems) and be able to confidently address new challenges in Data Science and AI.
The University also plans to use the wealth of valuable resources in the OpenDS4All repository to enhance and improve their teaching curricula.