I had the pleasure to talk with P.K. Agarwal, Regional Dean and CEO of Northeastern University’s Silicon Valley campus.
Northeastern University has been based in Boston since 1898 but now has graduate campuses in Charlotte, Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Toronto to provide students across North America the opportunity to succeed in different elements of the techno-economy. The venues offer a combination of online courses, live classroom lectures, collaborative team projects, and experiential job trainings.
McKinsey Global Institute has predicted that by 2018 the U.S. could face a shortage of between 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills, and a shortage of 1.5 million managers and analysts who know how to leverage data analysis to make effective decisions.
To address this shortage, Northeastern University now offers Master of Science degrees in the most in-demand STEM professions:
- Computer Science
- Energy Systems
- Health Informatics
- Information Assurance
- Project Management
PK noted that one of the many reasons students are finding Northeastern University Silicon Valley is because they have a drive to pursue big data after seeing the growth in demand for business professionals with big data skills in the fields from which they have experience. The Silicon Valley campus is co-located with IDT (Integrated Device Technology), offering industry alignment, and making it a convenient and logical venue for professionals wanting to pursue a career in technology around big data.
Given that fewer than 20 percent of companies are using big data, I was surprised more companies were not sending their employees to get degrees that enable them to leverage the big data they are paying to collect and store. However, PK noted that companies are showing interest in the hybrid programs that involve in school and online classes.
Northeastern has launched a couple of reskilling programs for professionals without STEM degrees. The first is an eight-week boot camp, called LEVEL, that gives people the skills and experience they need for a career in data analytics. There’s also a three-year Masters degree program, called ALIGN, that includes six-month co-op employment.
While other universities are gearing up to meet the demand for data analysts and data scientists, Northeastern has taken the lead to address this need by offering programs for people without STEM-related degrees but with a desire to pursue a career in big data.