MDS Spotlight: Meet Rob Blumberg MDS Vancouver, Class of 2020

It was his passion for soccer that Rob Blumberg first encountered the world of data science.

“I was particularly interested in learning about these models and algorithms that were capable of uncovering meaningful insights about soccer games from data which did not seem to contain obvious patterns,” he explained.

Rob Blumberg
Rob Blumberg

Blumberg’s interest in data science further intensified while getting his Bachelor of Science in Physics at McGill University in Montreal.

“I’ve always been someone who enjoys working with numbers and understanding models and relationships in data, which is what led me to study physics at McGill. While I really enjoyed my undergrad, I found that research in physics focused on very specific, niche topics, which made it hard to see the real life applications of the work I was doing,” he added.

As Blumberg headed into his last year of his undergrad, his focus shifted away from physics to data science and started looking into the different topics within the field.

“From supervised learning to data visualization, I realized how big the field really was, and the breadth of knowledge I’d need to acquire to become a good data scientist. Because of that breadth, I decided that it would be best for me to receive a more formal, comprehensive education in data science,” he explained. “Also, given that data science is evolving at such a fast pace, I wanted to make sure that I would learn the best, most up to date practices in the field. I started looking into schools and found the UBC MDS program.”

In addition to the UBC MDS program, Blumberg looked at programs in the UK and at the University of Toronto. But what ultimately led Blumberg to choose UBC’s MDS program was the curriculum, the program’s alumni and the capstone project.

What have been the top benefits of the program for Blumberg?

“The obvious benefits have been the hard, technical data science skills that I have acquired over the last 10 months, as well as the capstone project where I’ve been able to apply my skills to solve real world problems,” he said. “Both of these things make me much more confident heading into the job market, even in these uncertain times.”

Blumberg added that one of the greatest benefits of the MDS program is the people.

“The professors, instructors and the rest of the teaching team are all extremely knowledgeable, and committed to the education and welfare of the students. This was especially obvious with the shift to online classes due to COVID-19, as the entire teaching team worked extremely hard to make sure that the quality of the program did not suffer.”

For those looking at the UBC MDS program, Blumberg offered this piece of advice.

“Many people elect to self-teach rather than to pursue a degree. However, by completing a program like MDS, you ensure that you are learning the best, most up to date practices and information.”

Since the program finished, Blumberg now works as a data scientist for Validere, an oil and gas company and will be based in their Toronto, ON office. 

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

  1. Make friends and work with your peers: There are so many smart and friendly people from different backgrounds who make learning and collaborating so much easier.
  2. Study for quizzes with the mindset of learning the material to improve yourself as a data scientist, and not simply to perform well on the tests: At the end of the day, what matters are the skills you obtain from the courses, not the marks.
  3. If you have time, take on personal projects, go to hackathons, or participate in other data science related extra-curricular activities: You can leverage your personal projects during your job search, which helps you stand out from the rest of the applicant pool.

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