Leading figures in the fields of computer science, quantitative analysis, health information technology, social science and marketing spoke before a packed Coykendall Science Building Auditorium on “Excelling in the Data-Driven World,” a panel discussion of the rapidly growing field of big data analytics.
“We are now in the world of big data,” said panel moderator Eve Waltermaurer, associate professor of sociology and director of research & evaluation at The Benjamin Center for Public Policy at SUNY New Paltz. “As we learn to understand it and utilize it, we can drive its immensity in ways to change the world for the better.”
The panel was convened as an opportunity for students interested in learning more about educational and professional opportunities involving big data, which in recent years has seen an explosion in demand for qualified analysts across an array of professions.
“A 2011 McKinsey report predicted that by 2018 the US will face a shortfall of 140,000 – 190,000 professional data scientists,” Waltermaurer said. “You want to be sure of meaningful exciting work after graduation? This is your field. Today and tomorrow, big data analytics needs an interdisciplinary team including computer scientists, software developers, mathematicians, statisticians, writers and graphic artists.”
The panel featured representatives from five distinct fields affected by the growing importance of big data analytics, including two SUNY New Paltz alumni:
- Gary King ’80, the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science. King is an elected fellow in eight honorary societies, the recipient of more than 40 “best of” awards for his work, and is widely regarded as one of the most respected and most oft-cited researchers across the social sciences.
- Scott Kornhauser ’78, CEO of Park Street Solutions. Kornhauser holds more than 30 years of experience building and deploying healthcare information technologies, including benefits management and clinical decision support systems.
- Murali Chigurupati, qualitative analyst for A.R.T. Advisors. A software writer who holds a Ph.D. in physics, Chigurupati develops automated, algorithmic equity market trading systems. Chigurupati’s father, C.R. Seshu, taught economics at New Paltz for 30 years, and is the namesake of a scholarship available to economics students at the College.
- David Dirks, director of global market development for Satin Fine Foods, Inc., whose career has positioned him at the forefront of the big data analytics movement in consumer marketing.
- Min Chen, assistant professor of computer science at SUNY New Paltz, whose research concentrates on artificial intelligence, with particular interest in the application of fuzzy logic in data mining.
While each of the panelists devoted their remarks to issues and advances within their respective fields, all spoke to the importance of training a new generation of talented, creative professionals capable of comprehending and acting upon huge quantities of information flowing from a wide array of new sources.
“Some of you in here will be great data scientists, and we need you – there just aren’t enough of you,” Dirks said. “The data is there, calling out for large numbers of skilled analysts across business, academics and public service.”
“Excelling in the Data-Driven World” was organized through a collaboration of the Office of Development and The Benjamin Center. It was made possible thanks to the generosity of the panelists and with support from the Fund for New Paltz.