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Data Science Alumni Spotlight: Meet Niharika

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Niharika Karia

Data Scientist at Aspen Technology, Boston, MA
Graduation Year: 2016

Niharika Karia’s decision to enroll in Illinois Tech’s Data Science Program set the stage for a satisfying career.

Karia currently works as a data scientist at Aspen Tech, a company that specializes in process optimization. She is using machine learning to build predictive models for the oil and chemical industries to improve performance. “On a day-to-day basis I apply multiple concepts I learned at IIT,” she said. “Particularly advantageous were the courses on algorithm design and analysis, machine learning, and applied statistics.” Karia attributes much of her success in this position to Computer Science Professor Sanjiv Kapoor’s example-based teaching, which helped her develop a better approach to problem solving.

Karia completed a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in India and worked with a multinational information technology company. After considering a variety of degree programs, Karia decided to attend Illinois Tech because its data science curriculum is broader and more practically oriented. “I compared their degree program with a few others and saw the flexibility of courses offered,” she remarked. “Unlike the courses offered by some other universities which are more or less focused on computer science, the curriculum at Illinois Tech is well suited for multidisciplinary scholars. It does not assume that only highly qualified computer engineers can pursue a career in data science. The curriculum has a very good balance between computer science and math courses.”

Karia also recalls subtle, yet empowering, advice from Program Director and Computer Science Professor Shlomo Argamon, who offered words of encouragement when she learned about an interview for an internship. “When I got my first interview call, I went to Professor Argamon for advice. I was nervous about the interview since it was my first interview in the United States. I was not sure what to expect; I had many doubts in mind. After helping resolve my doubts, the professor gave me more advice on using narrative as a data scientist, which gave me a better way of expressing my strengths.”

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