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DCE Magazine

Mastering the Data Economy

Spring 2021

Analytics leader Alteryx has teamed with UCI to stage the first-ever Data Challenge competition.

The digital economy has transformed global business in ways we couldn’t have imagined even ten years ago, creating an ascendant new sector along the way – the data economy. Think of it as a worldwide digital ecosystem signaling a wave of new opportunities for students who can master the applications of data science and analytics.

After all, raw data is the backbone of the all-encompassing web that has transformed our world in nearly every aspect. Knowledge is power, as they say, and the ability to mine, understand and utilize the trillions of data bits that make the world go-round is the engine that powers it all.

It’s no surprise that data science and related disciplines are among the hottest skill sets in virtually any industry you can think of – and DCE offers related certificate programs that can put students on the fast-track to career success.

“With so many industries moving to either tap into their data or automate processes, the concepts taught in our DCE programs are highly relevant to the needs of various industries in terms of staying agile in the digital space,” said Hasan Hboubati, instructor for the DCE Data Science certificate program and team lead for Alteryx, a process automation leader that has teamed with UCI for the first Alteryx + UCI Data Challenge.

“The Data Challenge is a nine-week competition that provides an opportunity for students to work on real-world data analytics projects,” he added. “Participants were asked to pose business questions with the industries of finance or education, then propose a solution based on the analysis of the available data sets. There were three teams of two students, each assigned coaches from Alteryx who are practicing data scientists and data engineers.”

The idea, he says, is to create a hands-on learning experience and provide valuable professional connections in the data science and analytics fields. Alteryx coaches, including Hboubati, are extremely supportive and open to mentoring team members long after the competition is over. It’s hoped that the Challenge will become a recurring and expanded event in the coming years.

It’s all part of Alteryx for Good, an outreach program that delivers the benefits of breakthrough data analytics capabilities into schools, universities, and nonprofit organizations.

“Alteryx for Good empowers students to succeed in the data economy,” Hboubati said. “The program allows students to gain data skills needed to succeed in their careers. With our technology, you get hands-on with data science and analytics already used at thousands of companies globally, such as Coca-Cola, Best Buy, Ford, and Adidas.”

Leading professors engage students with the latest technological developments, providing mentoring and assistance along the way. New graduates and those currently unemployed are provided free resources to “skill up and jump back into their career stronger and smarter than before,” Hboubati added.

Transforming data analytics

Enabling people and organizations to accelerate digital transformation in inventive ways, Alteryx is on a mission to make advanced analytics accessible to anyone who works in an analyst role, with no programming skills required.

“None whatsoever,” Hboubati said. “Analysts can create models with drag-and-drop tools, easily combining every data source with hundreds of ready-to-use automation building blocks, breezing through all the routine data prep to spend time discovering actionable insights through built-in predictive, prescriptive, and location analytics.”

Partnering with UCI and the Division of Continuing Education was a natural fit for Alteryx, forming an alliance that underlines the essential nature of these disciplines and promotes the career opportunities of a data science background. Long an incubator for top talent in the IT sector, DCE offers leading-edge programs that address the most in-demand skillsets.

The DCE Data Science certificate program is continually evolving, addressing the latest developments and technologies available. Taught by highly experienced professionals, the courses touch on data engineering, data mining, and machine learning, as well as SQL and Python.

“Since it was launched in 2013, Data Science is consistently one of our most popular programs and has undergone many iterations to address changes in the field,” Hboubati said.

The Data Analytics for Business certificate program is designed specifically for participants working in marketing, sales, operations – any business role that can benefit from an analytics background. And the Machine and Deep Learning program, previously branched off from Predictive Analytics, targets the ascendant artificial intelligence field.

These certificate programs are intended for students of all backgrounds and experience who are looking to update their skills, develop new skills, advance in their industries, or even transition into completely new industries.

“Our portfolio contains courses at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels,” Hboubati added. “Although most of our students tend to be working professionals, we are seeing changes in our demographics.”

A license to learn

The Alteryx + UCI Challenge is the latest addition to DCE’s robust endeavor to develop the next generation of leading data science professionals, offering an opportunity for students to solve real-world issues and apply all they have learned using Alteryx analytic tools. To increase incentive, teams can win small prizes, and competitors are eligible to qualify for valuable skills badges for demonstrating their knowledge.

The skills badges align directly with the Alteryx Getting Started Learning Pathway that students can complete independently. As part of the Challenge, UCI works with Alteryx to validate the work that students submit and confirm that it demonstrates knowledge of the skills presented in the pathway. Students have to complete several assignments and a final project to qualify, so earning the badge signifies hard work on the student’s part.

Perhaps best of all, the Challenge competitors, along with all active students currently enrolled in an educational institution, receive a free Alteryx Designer educational license for use in their studies, valid for one year, Hboubati said.

“The Alteryx for Good program provides active students with free full-year educational licenses which allow them to perform data engineering and data science work, including connecting to data sources, blending data, creating predictive and machine-learning models. The idea is to help elevate learning with industry-recognized data preparation, data modeling, and data science – and it’s all a lot easier to access and use than you ever thought possible.”

Learn more about DCE’s technology programs.