Data are becoming the new raw material of business
The Economist


Standing Out as a STEM Graduate: Alumni Spotlight on Bernard Beckerman

At The Data Incubator we run a free eight-week data science fellowship to help our Fellows land industry jobs. We love Fellows with diverse academic backgrounds that go beyond what companies traditionally think of when hiring data scientists. Bernard was a Fellow in our Fall 2016 cohort who landed a job with Uptake.

Tell us about your background. How did it set you up to be a great data scientist?

I studied Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University for my PhD. Graduate school prepared me with an array of technical skills including programming, statistical analysis, and the ability to build, communicate, and defend a scientific argument. These are all important in producing data science products and presenting them to those at all levels of a corporate structure.

What do you think you got out of The Data Incubator?

TDI helped me leverage my programming and critical thinking skills toward a career in data science by giving me essential skills and project experience that made me stand out from other advanced-degree STEM graduates. These include machine learning, parallel programming, and interactive data visualization. TDI also connected me to a cohort of accomplished students that has been a great support as I’ve started my career. 

Could you tell us about your Data Incubator project?

I worked on a prediction algorithm for crimes in Chicago based on time and location. I ended up discovering some interesting patterns, including peaks that track with the sunset and drastically change form based on neighborhood.

What advice would you give to someone who is applying for The Data Incubator, particularly someone with your background?

Come ready to cooperate and make friends. The term “Incubator” was apt for my cohort – our ages varied by decades, but we were all Data Science newborns together. You will have a lot to gain through collaboration, so make sure to get to know those around you and to form connections. And on another note, try to complete as much of your capstone as you can before you arrive! It will allow the partners to give you more substantive feedback, and will free up more time for everything else.

What’s your favorite thing you learned while at The Data Incubator? This can be a technology, concept, or whatever you want!

It was exciting to learn about parallelized tools for data processing and machine learning.

Where are you working now and tell us a little about your new job! 

I just started working as a data scientist at Uptake, a 700-person “startup” in Chicago. I’m on a team that predicts the failure of industrial machines so they can be fixed before they break down. In the next few weeks I’ll start using the tools I learned at TDI to build predictive models that can prevent critical failure in locomotives.

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