With two science-related degrees already under her belt, Jessica Campbell became aware of how important data analytics and machine learning have become in all fields of industry and research. With this on her mind, she decided to pursue her interest in this emerging field by enrolling in the Master of Science in Computing & Data Analytics (MSc CDA) program at Saint Mary's University.

In the program, Jessica was immersed in stats, business intelligence, programming and data classes. She was also required to participate in two project courses: system and functional analysis, and implementation and analysis.

The MSc CDA program was an interesting challenge for Jessica, as she pivoted from performing advanced research, to a program that was very course-and-project intensive.

"It involved a significant amount of applied learning, that is, the application of technologies to problems that lend themselves to the approaches offered by data analytics," Jessica says.

Though the program at Saint Mary's challenged Jessica's way of thinking and processing, it also introduced her to a new set of skills. She was able to use a range of technologies that are frequently used in both industry and research to solve complex problems. It didn't take long to put those newfound skills to use.

After being fully immersed in eight months of classes, MSc CDA students spend the next eight-month period on either a thesis, project or internship for the practical development of these skills.

"The combination of classes and practical experience gives students an excellent foundation needed to work in this field and to find meaningful employment," she adds.

Jessica explains that students in the MSc CDA program at SMU come from diverse backgrounds: engineering, software development, computing science, physics and business. "With the bulk of this program being group work, you spend a lot of time working with others and helping each other learn new things. You are introduced to many unique perspectives and technical capabilities when solving a variety of problems," she says.

Along with her undergraduate degree in math and physics and a PhD in nuclear physics, Jessica's experience in the Master of Science in Computing & Data Analytics program at Saint Mary's has prepared her for her career as a data scientist in Ottawa with the federal government. She believes that this unique combination of theoretical knowledge and practical application of computing and data analytics has given her a competitive edge in today's job market.

"An education in data analytics and computer science provides skills that are required to support research, industry and government. The volume and complexity of data in today's society is what is driving the need for these skills, and the employment opportunities that they afford."

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