Companies want the improbable in their analytics hires

I interviewed Michael Rappa, the North Carolina State University computer science professor who created the first master’s in analytics program, back in 2007. He’s got more experience training data scientists than anybody else in academia, so I asked him whether companies have realistic expectations for the data scientists they hire. He said companies want data scientists to be strong at both programming and mathematics.

Almost nobody has this background. Rappa shared with me a slide he put together showing the number of MIT undergraduates who graduated with a degree in what’s called 18C, mathematics with computer science. The numbers are tiny, certainly far less than one would hope. This is MIT, an intensely technical place. The chart also reflects a big year for 18C.  See for yourself: Rappa screen shot

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