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Faces of UMSI: Ermias Bizuwork

Ermias Bizuwork standing in dense woods

As a self-starter with loads of experience in the online classroom, Ermias Bizuwork knew that UMSI’s new Master of Applied Data Science (MADS) program was the ideal way to continue his education with a focus on data science. “I wanted a challenge and a way to learn data science techniques in a formalized way,” Ermias said. He’s joined 148 peers from across the globe in taking on the master’s program as a member of its first cohort. 

As an undergrad, Ermias studied chemical engineering and biotechnology. Now he lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he works as a product manager at The Home Depot. “My team designs and builds mobile, web and backend applications for supply chain and distribution,” he said. He’s continually sought ways to expand the skill set he brings to his job. “In preparation for obtaining a master’s, I studied statistics and took a few graduate-level computer science classes online through various universities,” he said. 

In fact, he first discovered the MADS program on Coursera while searching for classes about data science. “Learning through the online venue was a natural fit,” he said. “I’ve taken classes online at GATech, Harvard extension, Berkley extension and the University of Florida. I think the online classroom is the future of education.” Since enrolling, Ermias has had his nose to the grindstone and says his studies are going well. “So far Michigan is doing an excellent job with their online offerings,” he said. “I’m taking all of the courses that are available. I’ve taken 501, 502, 505, 521, 522 and 631, and I’m currently finishing up 532.” 

Ermias said he’s thriving in the program’s dynamic energy as students engage with the platform and curriculum for the first time. “It’s interesting to see how an established university launches a new program,” he said. “It’s a very iterative process much like software development or any project, really … I just hope that as the first cohort we can provide productive feedback to help push the program to the next level.” 

With this hope, Ermias is looking toward the future of the data science industry and how he’ll fit within it as a graduate of the MADS program. “We are in the golden age of big data, and there are still many insights to be uncovered with the data being generated,” he said. “The potential applications for data science are so numerous that it’s difficult to say how I’ll use this knowledge after the program. In my experience in the industry thus far, I’ve noticed that a lot of decisions are made shooting from the hip. I’m interested in decisions being made with statistical support or a more scientific approach … Eventually, who knows, I may strike out and start a company to provide full stack data science solutions.”