by Helen R. Betonio, CASS and Alita T. Roxas, OGS

THREE FACULTY members of the Institute have recently been conferred the degree Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Manila.

Asst. Prof. Johniel E. Babiera of the College of Science and Mathematics,  Prof. Adrian P.  Galido, Ph.D. and Asst. Prof. Shehab D. Ibrahim of the College of Computer Studies graduated from the program last June 2019. Together with other 36 students, they were the first batch of graduates of the MSDS.

Babiera, a faculty member of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, was among the eight students who graduated with Distinction Award for his sterling academic performance.

The Distinction Award is given to students with a CGPA of 4.20 or higher, a Capstone Project grade of 4.25 or higher and with no failing grade in any course.

“I learned state-of-the-art methods in dealing with data and as a tool to make data-informed business solutions.  The degree also brought a transformation on how I see things. But after the program, I learned to see the bigger picture – the impact or value of what I am doing.  For me, the significant contribution of the program is it prepared us to become both a practitioner and a leader,” Babiera shared.

When asked about how the program can contribute to MSU-IIT aside from research and instruction, he said, “Data science has very wide applications. Possible applications are creating a data-informed awards system, financial projections, human resource forecasting, or improving the management system.”

Galido also shared how the AIM experience has contributed to his professional growth. The Information Technology professor said that the degree has equipped him with approaches and techniques useful for data strategy formulation, data modeling, and analysis.

During the interview, Galido shared some of the questions he hopes to answer in the near term given the knowledge that he gained from the program.

“Can we transform towards a more data-driven Institute? How can we better leverage on and transform data into actionable insights to deliver an improved bottom line? What data science (academic) program will be suitable for our context?” the IT professor said.

Ibrahim, also a faculty member of the same department as Galido, said the over-all AIM experience was “something that I will remember for the rest of my life.”  He recalled the moments he had in AIM as “grateful, eureka and challenging” moments in which he experienced “learning difficult technical concepts, spending countless hours to solve a problem and finally getting it done at the last hour and experiencing insomnia due to pressure to studies.  He said that the experience also gave him “life lessons due to challenges of balancing being a father of three kids and being a student.”

“I was able to improve the skills I have before, such as programming skills and graph theory and more importantly, I was able to diversify my technical skills. I have learned a lot of technical skills in which I will never understand it if I studied it alone without someone with expertise and wisdom guiding me,” continued Ibrahim.

Among the many MSDS applicants from the different universities in the country, Babiera, Galido, and Ibrahim were the only ones who passed the admission processes.

The MSDS program, which was launched last March 2018 by AIM, is the pioneer graduate data science program in the Philippines. It is a 14-month intensive undertaking and has a roster of subjects totaling to 51.5 units. Its curriculum reflects the latest trends and best practices in the field — from data mining and exploration to machine learning, deep learning, and big data analytics. It also has a capstone project which aims to address data-driven problems in government institutions or local industries.