MDS Spotlight: Meet Birinder Singh, MDS Vancouver, Class of 2019

Falling oil prices is what prompted Birinder Singh to start thinking of ways to optimize how his company was handling client data and utilizing it in a better way.

“Traditionally there was a lot of redundant tasks that we were doing and we were missing the integration of data from different sources. I saw that if we apply machine learning algorithms into it we could do some predictive analysis and generate some insights as well.”

To entrench himself in the world of data science, Singh read articles on machine learning, participated in Kaggle competitions and did some online courses.

Singh knew that taking online data science courses would not be enough to gain the skills he desired.

“That approach was very unstructured and it would have taken a long time for me to reach the level I am today if I had followed that path,” he added.

Singh researched data science programs in North American and ultimately applied to UBC’s Master of Data Science (MDS) program. After getting accepted in the MDS program, Singh moved from his home town of Amritsar, India to Vancouver.

What attracted Singh to the MDS program was its timeline and its curriculum.

“The comprehensive curriculum was not being covered at any of the other programs within this short span of ten months which was really suitable for me because I did not want to stay out of job market for more than that,” he explained.

Singh also wanted to attend the MDS program because it was backed by UBC’s computer science and statistics department. “They had faculty doing some really cool stuff so I wanted to learn from them.”

Singh not only learned from the MDS teaching staff but also learned from his fellow cohort.

“While working on lab assignments, there was a lot of knowledge sharing,” he said.

Singh added that the diverse background of the cohort is another bonus of the MDS program. “It takes the students from diverse backgrounds and not just the computer science grads.”

The MDS program also made Singh realize that data science could be applied beyond the oil and gas sector.

“[The] industry talks directed to MDS cohort gave us insights about the real-life implementation of machine learning in different industries,” said Singh.

Since completing the MDS program, Singh is now working as a data scientist for Integra Data and Analytics Solutions, a Calgary-based company that provides data science solutions to the oil and gas industry.

Birinder’s Top 3 Tips on Succeeding in the MDS Program:

  1. Come prepared. Be familiar with Python and R as well as probability and statistics. “You will be able to take out the maximum from the program and not just get stuck on the syntax.” Also, make flashcards during the program about any important concepts.

  2. Take advantage of discussions with cohort on channels like Slack. “There are a lot of ideas that are shared and a lot of articles and new developments in the field. I recommend keeping a note of all of them.”

  3. Come in with an open mind and participate in discussions. “Be open to learning and being curious to see what everybody is doing and learn from them. That will really help in the long run and your career as well.”

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