I am proud of where I went to college, but I am not afforded as many opportunities to beam about my alma mater as some of my colleagues. Surrounded by USC grads in my office, I hear about just how great their school is during football season. Well, until they brought on Lane Kiffin as head football coach (the boasting has quieted down considerably). I went to NYU where sports are an afterthought, so you will seldom see the Violets grace the sports headlines.
However, I was thrilled to see NYU in the tec headlines twice this week, albeit for a very different, very geeky reason: Venture Beat writer Christina Farr reports “New York University wants to train the next generation of data scientists”
“NYU has created a Center for Data Science composed of faculty from across the university and will offer a variety of graduate-degree programs to its students. A two-year master’s program will begin accepting applications this month and will commence this fall. In addition, the university plans to establish a doctoral program in the field.”
Additionally, PandoDaily reporter Andrea Huspeni (also an NYU alum) did a smart Q&A with Frank Rimalovski, Managing Director of NYU’s Innovation Venture Fund (we have a freaking venture fund!)
Here are four reasons these articles make me proud to have graduated from NYU:
1) As the founder of a company that services internet companies exclusively, Big Data is a huge focus of our service offering and continues to shape our business for the future. Christina Farr is right. The amount of data scientists needed in the US is staggering and filling those jobs will depend our ability to effectively teach the skills needed for these jobs. As I have mentioned before, “Data scientists are sexy”.
2) NYU and other schools implementing these types of programs is an hopeful sign of flexibility and agility in a “business” I would classify as anything but. Old universities, esteemed in hundreds of years of acclaim and excellence can often be the worst offenders. As I have referred to leaders like Michelle Rhee in my previous posts about education reform, I believe we need a business-like mentality in the classroom to help get us back on the right track. Universities can be far too complacent as their tuitions increase annually, but they fail to properly prepare undergrads for the jobs that need to be filled.
3) The world is flat and this is a sign that we (NYU) understands that. As the co-founder of an outsourcing company, I am all too aware of the global competition the US faces. As the world has flattened and we no longer compete with the people sitting next to us, it is incredibly exciting to see great universities leading the charge to adapt to what our growing startup community needs.
4) NYU recognizes that (some) college students are ready to lead us into the next generation of innovation. Frank Rimalovski puts it best, “every university needs a robust startup ecosystem that helps empower or enable entrepreneurs across the university to go from an idea to impact and marketplace.”
The creation of new data sets will only continue to increase with each new piece of mobile technology. Focusing our curriculum around where this great nation is going versus where we have been is the end goal. NYU is moving towards this goal. It is my hope that more universities will continue to do the same.