MDS Spotlight: Meet Carrie Cheung, MDS Vancouver, Class of 2019

While analyzing aircraft sensor data for Boeing Vancouver, opened Carrie Cheung eyes were to a world where programming and math can be applied to data to solve business problems. 

“This experience sparked my interest to grow my knowledge about data science in a way that's also more structured and immersive,” said Cheung.

To gain the data science knowledge that Cheung was seeking, she took the plunge and applied to the UBC Master of Data Science (MDS) program.

What attracted Cheung to the MDS program was the curriculum that she felt had a good range of relevant topics that was carefully designed and curated to fit within a ten-month window and also included a capstone project.

“That timeline really appealed to me as someone who was coming in as a working professional wanting to take that plunge but not wanting to do it for say two or four years,” Cheung said.

Cheung admits it was a difficult decision to leave her role at Boeing to return to school full time but in the end she does not regret her decision.

“I thank myself so much that I made that decision because MDS is an intensive program and I do not recommend doing it part time,” she added.

Cheung also relished being surrounded by a cohort who were just as motivated to learn data science as she was. 

Another added benefit of the MDS program was the capstone project, which happens towards the end of the program. “[Capstone] offers a really great opportunity to apply what I've learned in the classroom to real business problems that are faced by companies today,” Cheung explained.

In fact, when it came time to choose a capstone project, Cheung saw it as a perfect opportunity to gain exposure to an industry that she had no experience in because it offered a safe environment. 

“It's only two months and you have a very supportive network: you've got a professor who is mentoring you and providing feedback and advice and then you're working with three other people,” said Cheung.

Looking back at the 10-months Cheung spent in the MDS program, she said that she learned so much over the past year and much more than she imagined. 

“I don't even know where to start. I knew going in I was going to learn a lot of new technical concepts … but also a less obvious point is that the MDS program gave me the confidence to explain and reason through data-related decisions.” 

Since wrapping up the program, Cheung is now working as a data scientist for NuData Security – A MasterCard company.

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

  1. Stay on top of assignments. “If you were procrastinator in school, don't fall back to these procrastinating ways, your future self will thank you.”

  2. Talk to your peers and instructors. “If you don't understand something or if you get stuck, don’t suffer silently. Take advantage of all the resources that you have available and this includes career-related events organized specifically by the program.” 

  3. Take care of yourself. “When things get hectic, usually this one just goes out the window. Eat well, exercise and get some sleep. It's hard to understand what a neural network is when your own neural network is operating on coffee and no sleep.”

Meet our Students & Alumni