In June 2019 Arcada’s first experts in Big Data Analytics graduated. Formally, this one-year master’s programme started in the autumn of 2018, but the foundations were laid some five years earlier when a specialized programme was started.
Responsible for the programme is Magnus Westerlund.
– Big Data is closely linked to information technology, a subject at Arcada since the late 90’s. Arcada was among the first universities in Finland to understand that there will be a demand for engineers able to manage analytics. That’s where the future lies, and Big Data Analytics is the first programme of its kind in Finland, says Westerlund.
In the IT sector, it’s mainly about meeting challenges described in data. Even though it’s much easier today to develop IT-systems than it used to be, you still need a thorough knowledge of engineering to create innovative solutions. Anyone with the basics in information technology, knowledge of programming and two to three years of relevant work experience is welcome to Arcada’s master’s programme Big Data Analytics.
– Big Data involves a new type of technology, and analytics involves a complete method renewal, demanding far more from the student than a normal IT change-of-tools. This is why Arcada wants to give alumni and new students the opportunity to sit down with our researchers to learn how to see those new possibilities. These students will gain new insights, even after years of working experience. It’s a 'refresher course', says Westerlund.
The first group of graduates from the Master's degree programme Big Data Analytics (2019).
This doesn’t mean that there’s less need for understanding other kinds of information technology. Big Data should be seen as complementing other programmes. The master’s programme touches on many sectors of society in a global perspective. It deals with future issues that our policy makers don’t know how to tackle.
– One example is self-steering vehicles. EU is faced with the difficult question of how to deal with them in a legal sense, i.e. how to manage the technical side of things and what demands can be made on the suppliers, Westerlund explains.
– We recently recruited Dr. Leonard Espinosa to strengthen our know-how concerning autonomous agents and to help us tackle the question from a new perspective, Westerlund continues.
In many ways, Arcada here has a larger, societal role.
– We offer something that no one else can provide today, but we have also realized that this is a programme that demands research competence. We need research competence to be able to continuously deal with new discoveries and above all to comprehend how the world will change. A university should be instrumental in forming society and in contributing new insights. The research done at Arcada must be turned into knowledge and a master’s programme is one way of sharing the knowledge we have, says Westerlund.
To date, the first Big Data specialists have graduated from Arcada and the next group is in turn the summer of 2020. The response from the students has been good.
– For many of the students this is a leap forward in their career; they either change employer or work profile. One of our students who worked for a large repair business was assigned new tasks thanks to his master’s thesis here. He was able to embark on a new career in the same company.
It all boils down to Big Data as a global contest in who will get to automate the world, explains Westerlund.
– We focus on technology, but from a broad method-related perspective. That’s why we want to have students with varying backgrounds, provided they have the basics in programming. Breadth is one of our main strengths, and it’s much needed in the global competition. Big Data Analytics isn’t only about how Finland will develop, but about how the entire world will develop.