Academics create first Cloud Data Science Lab


It has been said that the new LABFENUAH Data Science Laboratory is creative, with universal access, and that students and academics collaborate and learn to predict markets and companies. But beyond the innovative, we really understand what it is, what it is for and how it works.

We spoke to project leaders, Alberto Hurtado University professors Claudio Escobar and Tiago Alves. Both describe that data science is the study of factual information about big data which can be elements, facts or categories that, when studied, provide meaningful information for companies.

They say integrating it into academic training is essential, as it allows students to simulate what they will do once they enter their sources of work.

High demand

Mega corporations have reported that a data scientist is simply the most important professional in any internet business today and they are few and far between. By 2025, there will be more than 99,000 new data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence jobs in Latin America. However, around 50% of companies do not find candidates with the necessary skills in these areas.

According to the World Economic Forum, the world will generate more than 450 exabytes of data and, in this scenario, industries have opted for digital transformation to optimize their results, transforming data – and their correct analysis – into one of the most important in the current economic landscape.

“Knowing data science increases the possibilities to innovate and bring out new ideas and projects that today it is not even possible to imagine,” says Tiago Alves, director of the Management Control Engineering degree program, citing Data Science.

From the hand of Amazon

The first Data Science Laboratory, LABFENUAH, whose provider is Amazon, is a virtual technological infrastructure that allows the acquisition, storage, visualization and analysis of large datasets and simulate diagnoses through its interpretation.

Its goal is to support the use of data science in UAH’s teaching and management activities and to promote interdisciplinary research within the University and also with other academic institutions, collaborating with the public and private sectors in developing solutions .

According to Claudio Escobar, the implementation of LABFENUAH is still incipient. The first experience was in 2021 with Management Control Engineering teachers and later with career students. Connection tests were done with them. This 2022, students from other careers rated the experience and the plus points were the mobility, portability, and freedom to access from anywhere, because it’s hosted in the cloud.

For Tiago Alves this is an advantage because it marks a democratic stamp.

“It allows students, regardless of their economic status, to have access to an education that doesn’t depend on whether they have high-end computers or state-of-the-art phones,” he says.

Students register at a basic address provided by the laboratory and only need the internet to connect from any device, without the need to download any special programs and without having to be at the university.

no technical language

What is required to use the laboratory is learned in the classroom. The professors provide the theoretical background that explains when and why data science was born and then teach the methodology of extracting, assembling, structuring databases, graphing them, doing analysis (data analysis) and the most advanced, which is predicting what will happen in the future based on this information.

As in most processes in the digital world, becoming an advanced user is achieved through trial and error in the different software that make up the laboratory, the most widespread and used are R and Python, recognized as two essential programming languages ​​because they are friendly and they complement each other.

It’s one thing to know how to handle data quantities and logarithms, but another thing to do magic.

“This is not magic,” says Claudio Escobar, MBE and Head of Information Technology UAH. The analysis that leads to the results of the data must be interpreted and in that phase one must be responsible because on this basis conscious decisions are made that impact on the management and business of public and private organisations.

“It is important to act responsibly, ethically and with integrity in handling and analyzing data, considering the implications of one’s professional work and prioritizing public engagement and the common good,” adds Tiago Alves.

For the academic, the best thing about LABFENUAH and the team that composes it is to give the new generations the opportunity to be protagonists of the digital transformation. And, although training a professional with these skills is not an easy task, the growing demand that exists for them around the world far exceeds the supply and this is motivating.

“We are in line with what the main startups and universities are doing in the development and application of these technologies”, concludes Tiago Alves.

The lab is available online and offers two free courses: Databases for Research and Economics, which provide exercises and various support materials for using the financial database.

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