By Lauren LeungOn Tuesday, October 15, 2019, Berkeley Master of Engineering students and startups from SkyDeck, UC Berkeley’s number one startup incubator, convened for a night of networking.Arriving at the scenic top floor of the Chase Building in Dow…
Edited by Anna Liang
Kevin Feng, MEng ’18 (IEOR), Tennison Yu, and Liying Li from Beam Solutions sit down to talk to us about their unique career paths in data and where they think the industry is headed in the near future.
Kevin Feng, Head of Data Science
You pivoted from a background in oil and gas to data science. How did the MEng program help you pivot in your career?
“The MEng program provides a lot of opportunity to gain different technical and business skills. I came from a consulting background, so I was more focused on taking as many technical courses as possible, but the boot camps, business courses, and advising sessions are very helpful as well. I really liked that the program is flexible enough for you to take the courses that best help you achieve your personal career goals, whether they be in different engineering departments, MBA courses, etc- as well as providing great networking and job searching opportunities.
How do you think data science will evolve in the near future?
Like everyone, I’m definitely looking forward to cutting edge advancements in data science — autonomous vehicles, AI robots, Amazon Alexa finally telling me the temperature on the first try instead of playing “Temperature” by Sean Paul on Spotify. In Alexa’s defense, it’s a solid 2005 throwback. More seriously, I’m also really excited about the increased adoption of data science on the not-so-cutting-edge (dull-edge?) of the spectrum. Management consultants and analysts that previously worked in Excel are already starting to pick up Python and ML packages for more robust analysis. As everyone becomes more familiar with big data and AI capabilities, I think there will be huge strides in both data-driven analysis and data ethics.
What advice do you have for the next generation of data scientists? What skills should they focus on learning in grad school?
A couple years ago I probably would’ve said that technical skills and tools are the most important things to focus on, but the rise of easy-access data science courses and open source tools has changed the landscape. Technical data skills are becoming less of a differentiator and more of a baseline requirement (especially for entry-level positions). It’s critical for data scientists to have some level of interpersonal skills and business understanding to know how/what they can do to leverage their skills into real value. It’s easy to underestimate soft skills, but the reality is that building those skills is the same as building technical skills. You need to practice interviewing, networking, doing case studies, etc. (all which are abundant in opportunity at Berkeley) to get better at those things. I would advise taking advantage of those opportunities and viewing them as just as valuable as your core courses. If you can write an AI language bot from scratch and also talk like one, skip some classes and join a club.
Now, more than ever, it’s critical for data scientists to have some level of interpersonal skills and business understanding to know how/what they can do to leverage their skills into real value.
You have a fun data science related Instagram account! What inspired these visualizations?
I like joking around and data science, so my Instagram is for joking around with data science. Public data is available everywhere. Sometimes you’ll think ‘hm, Joe Rogan seems to mention chimpanzees a lot during his podcast’ and visualize the data and realize that Joe Rogan’s podcast is exclusively the word chimpanzee surrounded by different verbs and adjectives.”
Tennison Yu, Data Scientist
What interests you and/or your company in working with MEng students?
“MEng students are some of the most well equipped to handle the modern challenges faced in industry. We have worked closely with IEOR students in particular and they have displayed a deep knowledge base, a willingness to learn and be creative whilst maintaining a high standard of professionalism, focus, and light-heartedness.
What is your vision for data science in next 5–10 years?
Data science is still a rapidly evolving field. With computing and access expected to grow at an exponential rate, I’m expecting growth in all 3 Vs of data science: velocity, volume, and variety. Advancements in both hardware and software will be a cornerstone of handling this expansion. We are already seeing it with new graphic and accelerator chips tailor made for new forms of neural network algorithms.
What advice do you have for the next generation of engineers? What skills should they focus on learning in grad school?
The next generation of engineers need to be riding the wave when it comes to new technology. They need to know the best practices when it comes to working with super big data both from a hardware and software perspective. Equally important is to know how to communicate data and the ethics behind different analyses. As more and more personal data becomes available or can be inferred, it is important to keep in mind a data set’s origins and its inherent biases.”
Liying Li, Data Scientist
What inspired you to study data science?
“I studied Economics and Finance when I was a bachelor student. After I acquired my Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, I felt that what I learned about Economics and Finance was not something very concrete, so I decided to get into a more technical area — Data Science. This major is a great pivot for people like me with a non-technical background who want to get into the technology industry. The learning and working environment in the Bay Area is also great for people who want to pursue their technical dreams.
Data Science covers everything about data. It gives me the possibility to explore different industries and different roles in data. In my first role as a data scientist, I perform a combination of tasks ranging from a data engineer to a data scientist to a data analyst, and I can deal with data in a wide range of companies and institutions. The potential of my role itself attracts me most.
Where do you see the industry heading?
As I mentioned above, where there is data, there is data science. This industry is an emerging industry with the development of modern information technology. I would believe that data science would cover more fields and contributes more to traditional industries. In those cases, people with various and compound background would become necessary and would be better data scientists. They can apply their industry knowledge to reality with the tool of data science, while data science would help to solve the problems that they couldn’t resolve only with industry knowledge or experience.
What excites you about being a woman in data science?
As a new graduate without working experience, I didn’t think much about how my gender affects my professional data scientist as a data scientist. Recently, I finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and realized there are still many obstacles professionally for women. I realize that as a professional woman, I could and I should pursue more possibilities and seize the opportunities presented to me. At this point, a data scientist is not only a job title for me, but it also makes me feel that I have taken more responsibilities and become more motivated to go further in this role.”
Industry Office Hours with Beam Solutions: A conversation with three data scientists was originally published in Berkeley Master of Engineering on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
On origami, the power of storytelling, and product design.Tiffany is an MEng student studying mechanical engineering with a concentration in product design, and also the Communications Representative for the MEng class of 2020. She is originally from a…
Introducing the student representatives for the Class of 2020
Each MEng class elects Academic, Career, Social and Communications Representatives. These representatives foster community within and among the classes and put forth the extra time and effort to plan and run various events.
The MEng Career Representatives serve as the conduit between the Career Development Team and the students, helping to deliver information, activities and events that support the MEng student’s career and job search journey. They collaborate on career activities with the program office to organize, staff and promote networking and programming events.
Heqing Huang, Industrial Engineering & Operations Research
Heqing is an MEng student in IEOR. Originally from China, Heqing went to UW-Madison (Go Badgers!) for his undergrad and worked as a Business Intelligence Consultant in Chicago for two years. He is passionate about assisting others in achieving their career goals. Heqing likes to run and hike in the summer, and snowboard in the winter. You can often find him in the RSF, Shires Hall and hopefully the wilderness of Lake Tahoe.
Janelle Lines, Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences
Janelle Lines is a Master of Engineering student in the EECS department at UC Berkeley. Janelle graduated from UC San Diego in 2018 with majors in Bioengineering and Physics. Following her graduation, Janelle worked as a software engineer for a year at a biomedical device company called Instrumentation Laboratory (IL) in the greater Boston area. She is now attending UC Berkeley to study EECS with a specialization in Data Science and Systems. During her time at UCSD and in industry, she led multiple successful projects in the fields of machine learning and data science. Her most notable accomplishment was the design of an autoencoder neural network for anomaly detection in medical device performance at IL. Janelle has a passion for incorporating authentic leadership and entrepreneurial values into engineering practice. She is enthusiastic to serve as the career representative for the EECS department in the MEng program. Janelle is eager to utilize her diverse experience working in both industry and academia to connect current students with potential career opportunities in industry. In her free time, Janelle enjoys multiple athletic activities including surfing, horse-back riding and boxing.
Madeleine Waller, Nuclear Engineering
Madeleine Waller is a Nuclear Engineering student at the University of California, Berkeley in the Master of Engineering program. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in May 2019. Over the course of her academic career, she has worked at the Rensselaer Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, Curtiss-Wright and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In the future, she aspires to contribute to the design and implementation of small modular reactors.
Mike Munckong, Bioengineering
Hi everyone! My name is Mike, and I am originally from Thailand but grew up in LA. I went to Brown University for my undergrad in biomedical engineering, and I’m excited about moving to New York after graduation. I love food (Thai food especially, shout-out to Imm Thai on University Ave), landscape photography and listening to Spanish reggaetón.
Sushmitha Sree Gumireddy, Civil & Environmental Engineering
I am Sushmitha, a Master of Engineering student in Civil Engineering with a focus on Intelligent Transportation Systems. As a career rep, I hope to build a strong network for my batch mates to foster their career choices. I love challenging myself to learn new things and currently am learning Yongmudo-Self Defense. Reading books and meditation are my stress busters.
Varun Save, Mechanical Engineering
Born and raised in Mumbai, Varun studied Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. While working as a Data Scientist at Cymer and an Interior Engineer at Tesla, he was challenged to stretch his comfort zone and deliver products within a short span of time. During his internships, he realized that learning new skills and understanding the business side of engineering enabled him to widen his creative thinking and problem-solving horizons. This is what brought him out of the cornfields of West Lafayette to the technological and cultural heaven that is Berkeley. When he isn’t working, you’ll find Varun playing football (the one with feet), hiking or taking a nap or reading on the beach.
Social Representatives communicate social and recreational ideas and feedback among the student body. They also plan and implement cohort bonding events and are provided with an activity budget. They work with the program office to organize, staff and promote programming and social events.
Toby Baker, Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences
I am hoping to work in the field of agricultural robotics, solving food insecurity and reducing the environmental impact of farming. Outside of class, I like cooking, TV, exercising and being social.
Anthony Yan, Mechanical Engineering
Hey everyone! My name is Anthony and I will be one of your social reps this year. Some quick facts about me: I was born in Hong Kong and lived there until I moved to New York City to go to an International Boarding High School. I love meeting people from different cultures and learning the languages of my peers who come from ALL OVER THE WORLD! I love playing basketball and guitar. Most importantly, I am really excited to be here and I plan to take advantage of all that UC Berkeley and the west coast have to offer.
Elsie Wang, Industrial Engineering & Operations Research
A foodie who loves engineering, traveling and laughing!
Hazelynn Khoo, Mechanical Engineering
Hazelynn is a current MEng student studying Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Product Design. She graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering from UC Santa Barbara in June 2019. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and baking, exploring new beaches and attending concerts.
Kian Talaei, Industrial Engineering & Operations Research
Hello. Salaam. Hola. Bonjour. Namaste. Annyeonghaseyo. Marhabaan. My name is Kian Talaei and I will be one of your social reps this academic year. I am currently a Master’s student in Industrial Engineering Operations Research and actually completed my undergrad at Cal as well as double majoring in Economics and Biology. My hobbies include playing soccer, tennis, and poker, driving and going out with friends.
Academic Representatives communicate class-wide academic issues and concerns to core faculty and, when appropriate, to the program office. They act as the main point of contact for professors in reaching the students within the class.
Kaan Ardic, Mechanical Engineering
I was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and I completed my undergrad at Purdue University. I am a passionate fan of almost all sports, and I enjoy getting to participate in as many as possible. I look forward to making a positive difference within the MEng program during my one year here!
Daniel Chung, Industrial Engineering & Operations Research
I am a part-time student in IEOR and a full-time Applied Data Scientist at Atlassian. I was raised in Vancouver, completed my undergrad near Toronto, spent a few years working in New York, and now living in SF so I must say I experienced the east coast and the west coast lifestyles pretty evenly. I enjoy casual meetups at coffee shops so feel free to reach out if you want to discuss anything, from academics to fun things to do in the Bay Area.
Isha Sharma, Bioengineering
Hi! I am a graduate student in Bioengineering. I am from Delhi, India. Before moving to the USA, I was working with Bain & Company. As an academic representative, I intend to bring improvements and structure to our MEng program, and to represent the academic requirements of my batch-mates. Beyond academics, I love dancing!
Pranay Pasula, Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences
Three years of industry experience in multiple engineering roles at Shell Oil Company. Interested in using machine learning, math, and software engineering to benefit society. Love playing tennis, watching movies and being outdoors.
Thomas Chen, Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech. Prior to starting the MEng program, I was working at a semiconductor company down in San Jose. I am passionate about circuit designs and applications of chips to form a working system, which was what I did for undergraduate Capstone Design. Outside school you will find me watching sports and shooting photos while hiking on trails. Something cool: I shoot films!
The Communications Representative writes blog posts, takes pictures and coordinates with the MEng marketing and social media team to share their “day-in-the-life” MEng experiences, and helps to publicize the news and accomplishments of the MEng cohort.
Tiffany Tao (Mechanical Engineering)
Tiffany is a graduate Mechanical Engineering student participating in the Master of Engineering Program here at UC Berkeley. She can be found tinkering around in a maker’s workshop and plans to pursue a career in product design. Human-centered design and interaction design are her main disciplines of focus and she wants to learn more about how to integrate technology into people’s daily lives. In her spare time, she likes to do origami, photography, and play video games. Fun fact: she has a collection of 50+ postcards on her wall from her travels, friends and family.
Introducing the representatives for the class of ‘20 was originally published in Berkeley Master of Engineering on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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