Educating the Data Engineers of Tomorrow

Computer Science at Yeshiva College Offers New Courses in Data Science, Distributed Systems; Expanded Programming for Non-Majors

This fall, two completely new course sequences within the computer science program at Yeshiva College will position students to shine in the fastest-growing job markets in today’s technology sector.

Dr. Judah Diament
Judah Diament

Students can now choose to study data science—a field that marries mathematics and computer science to derive valuable insights from large quantities of data at the speed of light—and/or distributed systems, which focuses on the mastery of programs designed to run in parallel across thousands of machines simultaneously, enabling systems like Amazon Web Services and Google search to be built. From Artificial Intelligence to Modern Data Management, both tracks offer a host of new courses built to equip students with the skills and knowledge that will set them apart from other graduates in the field, taught by an accomplished faculty drawing on a rich blend of industry and research experience.

“We’ve expanded our offerings in the two areas that have had the biggest impact on the field in the last 10 years and we aim to provide our students with the best possible career preparation,” said Judah Diament, co-chair of the computer science department and program director of undergraduate data science, who came to Yeshiva a year ago from Goldman Sachs, where he was a vice president in finance engineering. “Now more than ever, data-rich industries—tech, finance, marketing, and logistics—are using statistical and probabilistic approaches in mission-critical decision-making and systems, which require data engineers. At the same time, understanding the science and practices behind cloud computing and the technology that drives giants like Google, Netflix, Amazon and Facebook, in addition to countless start-ups, is incredibly important, and our Distributed Systems track will prepare students to excel in that world in ways that aren’t usually touched on in undergraduate programs.”

Just one example of this is a new course in Data Preparation, which simulates the often daunting task of drawing data from many varied and autonomous sources and readying them for meaningful analysis through a series of processes that include cleansing, integrating, transforming and sampling them. “This is an absolutely critical skill for data scientists in the real world—all the surveys I’ve seen say data scientists spend 60 to 80 percent of their time doing data preparation,” said Diament. “Yet you won’t find it in most undergraduate curricula. If we want students to succeed in the workplace, they need to know this.”

Dr. Avraham Leff
Dr. Avraham Leff

Students in the program will also benefit from the industry knowledge and research experience of new full-time faculty member Dr. Avraham Leff, who joins Yeshiva College after 25 years in IBM’s research division. With specialization in application performance and improving application development productivity, Leff brings cutting-edge insight to the classroom; he joins Dr. Van Kelly, who currently serves as co-chair of the computer science department after a career in industry that included positions at Motorola and Bell Labs.

“Dr. Leff has been involved in the research and development of multiple generations of middleware at IBM, and thus brings breadth and depth, both academic and practical, into the classroom that will benefit our students tremendously,” said Diament.

In addition, in recognition of the omnipresent role technology plays in nearly every field, for the first time students who don’t plan to major in computer science will also be able to choose from a selection of courses designed to provide them with universal skills that will be invaluable in any career. Offerings will include both Programming and Web Programming, Data Management and Visualization, and Data Science Bootcamp: Using R and the Cloud.

“There are tremendous advantages to becoming code literate and data literate no matter what profession you are entering,” said Diament. “From medicine to public policy to the financial world, most professions are becoming increasingly data-driven. The odds of your success in any of these industries will be greatly enhanced by being able to access, and visually communicate the knowledge found in, the data sets that drive each industry.”

With promising new courses and faculty, excitement about the future of computer science at Yeshiva College is palpable. “A record number of students are already enrolled in the fall’s introductory courses, and I expect the numbers to continue growing,” said Diament. Extracurricular events that will offer networking and mentorship opportunities are still to come.