Data is the raw material of the digital age. In the hands of skilled professionals and organizations, data can be transformed into business advantages, drive product decisions, engage consumers and even predict future behavior and trends.
The introduction of algorithms and machine learning has accelerated how organizations learn from this data, and has reduced the cost of that learning, making it important for managers to understand their basic functions and capabilities.
Almost every industry and discipline now relies on the emerging fields of data science and machine learning. Seeing a need for working professionals to refresh or enhance their understanding of these concepts without devoting months or years to training, CU Boulder launched Tech Frontiers, a short-form education series kicking off this summer with courses in data science, July 12–13, and machine learning, July 15–16.
Mark Weinberg, vice president of Core Product Engineering at eBay and a member of the CU Boulder computing advisory board, said that data science and machine learning have become integral to the way his company does business, from market research and product design to customer acquisition and product delivery.
“We’ve seen that the field and our business needs are evolving quickly,” said Weinberg. “CU Boulder’s short courses will allow our managers and professionals to gain the knowledge and experience they need to lead with confidence.”
While executives are alert to the need to keep pace, the availability of intensive professional education to support growth is only beginning to emerge. The CU Boulder courses, led by researchers and professors, offer access to the latest concepts and methods in the field and an unparalleled opportunity to get ahead of the curve. The programs are offered in-person on the Boulder campus with a live-virtual option, creating a platform for participants to build community and expand networks.
“We hear from our partners in industry that an understanding of these methods and how to use them is becoming a basic requirement even at the highest levels of business operations,” said Bobby Schnabel, professor and chair of the computer science department in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. “So we set about designing courses that could, in a short span of time, introduce professionals and executives to the latest concepts and research in the field.”
Participants in CU Boulder’s Tech Frontiers courses will develop an understanding of technical methods used in current practice through hands-on project experience in teams utilizing real data sets. The courses include an ethics component to address critical issues such as fairness, privacy and representation. Guided by experts, participants will emerge with a stronger technical vocabulary to guide workplace teams, strategy and decision making.
CU Boulder’s Tech Frontiers course in data science provides participants with knowledge and skills in data collection, management, curation, cleaning and visualization, as well as an introduction to methods in statistical inference and machine learning. The machine learning course explores deep learning/neural networks, classification methods and non-parametric methods. As an added benefit, participants gain access to a community of Tech Frontiers Fellows who receive regular information about CU Engineering colloquia and webinars on emerging topics and invitations to events.
Participants considering a degree can choose to continue their learning through CU Boulder’s master’s in data science, which offers an on-campus program for traditional students and a degree on Coursera that uses performance-based admissions––which means no GRE, transcripts or letters of recommendation.
“The half-life of engineering knowledge is estimated to be less than five years,” said Keith Molenaar, interim dean of CU Engineering. “Professionals need access to high-quality, innovative research, techniques and skills to stay ahead. As the top engineering college in the Rocky Mountain region and a national leader in computer science, we are excited to offer access to our world-class faculty and to create a new professional network of industry leaders in Colorado.”