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Dan Reilly Interview
Student Spotlight,

Dan joined the Masters of Data Science and Analytics Program (DSA) in the Fall of 2016. Like many students drawn to this program, Dan saw the potential data could play in increasing the effectiveness of his work outcomes.   Dan had attained a bachelor’s in Developmental Psychology from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from University of Central Missouri.  Dan also perused a PHD in Experimental Psychology. Dan found himself in need of greater training on how to analyze and use the ever-increasing data sets available. This brought him to the DSA program.

Dan works for the University of Missouri as part of Partners in Prevention(PIP), a statewide substance abuse coalition that focus on creating healthy and safe college campuses.  Dan is the Prevention and Research Coordinator and one of his focuses is on providing technical assistance with survey implementation and data analysis.    Dan believes that data can help facilitate informed decision making.

The PIP works with students to keep them healthy, so they can do well academically.  Dan often takes on issues such as interpersonal violence, violence against women, personal safety, and alcohol and drug abuse.  Dan knows that consolidating and analyzing data can help serve students by helping to anticipate needs.   In their effort to help students they use data at the descriptive level, but have also been unable to do predictive analytics as well.

As Dan looks back at the first year of the program he expressed that he was looking to incorporate more of a data driven approach into his job duties.  The program gave him an opportunity to be given structure and direction to learn the latest and best practices for data driven informative decision making.  The program also gave him the level of accreditation that will result in opportunities for himself and his work associates and the students he served.

The DSA program helped Dan identify that he has an aptitude for data pre-processing and cleaning.  With the access to different data in different places becoming available, data cleaning is essential.   The data sets available are very messy and needed a lot of pre-processing and data cleaning to bring them together.  This program has put Dan in the position to be able to fill this need for his workplace among others.

The DSA program has worked well with Dan’s busy work and family schedules.  The flexibility of the program allowed him to access the content when he was available to do it and yet have the real-time assistance and guidance of the DSA faculty and mentor team members.   Dan has been well served by the on-line aspect of the program.  He feels the style of on-line education is very similar to the work being done in the field thus preparing him well.  He feels the paradigm matches what he will do in the future.  The DSA offers Dan the best combination of quality instruction and flexibility including learning materials that reach multiple learning styles.

Dan feels the program is preparing them well for career growth.  It incorporates collaborative learning, encouraging the students to work together and use their own data to be as experiential as they want it to be. At times, the program has been very challenging and those challenges match the ones the students will face professionally. The students are not spoon-fed, they are learning the material.  Dan has been very happy with the faculty who have been quick to help, respond and enhance the learning experience.

Dan believes that the future for Data Science is bright and with the amount of data available, those that don’t learn to use it will be left behind.  The world of Data Science is just beginning to be tapped. He feels we will do a much better job of identifying where humans will make predictable mistakes and where computers don’t, compared to where computers make predictable mistakes and humans don’t. Through this study Dan predicts we will assess  where artificial intelligence (AI) can help us move forward and where it can’t, helping us understand where we need people and where we need machines.

Dan is very hopeful about where the DSA program will take him in his future.  He is already working in Data Science and the program will enhance his ability to do his job and accelerate his future job trajectory.  The program satisfies his need for certification in the field giving him the credibility to be able to advance the field of informative decision making.   As more industries recognize that data is available and can influence decision making he is open to a promotion or change in careers that allows him to use the valuable skills set he will have gained.