Colin Brown '18: BS in Data Science

Opportunities for research have provided Colin Brown '18 with new perspectives on data science and his own career path.

Colin Brown - Class of 2018 - Data Science
  • Degree program: BS class of 2018, MS class of 2019
  • Major: Data Science
  • Hometown: Willington, CT
  • Honors: Dean's List fall 2016, spring 2017
  • Leadership: Big Data Club, Vice President; League of Legends collegiate team
  • Research: Dataflow Notebooks

I transferred into the Data Science program at UMassD after obtaining my Associates Degree in Computer Science from Manchester Community College in Connecticut.

An interest in computer science is something my older brother and I have always shared. In high school, I enjoyed statistics and scored a 5 on my AP statistics exam. My teacher suggested data mining as a career considering the direction that technology was moving. It seemed like a good fit.

The most rewarding experiences I've had at UMassd were when I was able to choose my own project topics in my classes. Applying the topics you've learned to independent studies or data is far more valuable than applying them to already completed studies. 

Big data club, DataFest group photo
Colin Brown (center) and his team members at DataFest 2018

Big Data Club

I am co-founder and Vice President of the Big Data Club on campus. The club, accompanied by students from Dr. Rai's class, attended DataFest, an undergraduate competition in which students work to extract insight from complex data sets.   

I also spent time with the Outdoors Club and went on their trips to Acadia National Park and Six Flags. Both were positive experiences worth attending.

Research opportunities

Last summer I went to SciPy in Austin, Texas as part of a research grant offered for the Dataflow Notebook project. This is an ongoing project in collaboration with the research I've conducted with Dr. Koop of the Computer & Information Science Department. We presented an update to the project at the JupyterCon Popup in Boston and submitted a paper related to the project to ProvenanceWeek 2018. 

My research has allowed me to better standardize my use of LaTeX, become more comfortable working with larger projects, and switch between programming languages such as Python and Javascript very natively.

My research has also changed the way I consider which courses to take. I ask myself how a certain topic may give me a new perspective on my own research or give me new ideas for additional research topics. 

Next step: MS in Computer Science

I will remain at UMassD to pursue my Masters in Computer Science after graduation.  

I've been considering a PhD for the type of research-related work I wish to pursue in the future. I've heard differing opinions about the kind of qualifications I'll need, and whether a PhD is a good thing to pursue.  

At the moment, I am trying to figure out what my best options are in terms of both employment and after completing my masters. 

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