Big Data Educator

    Katrina Falkner

    university of adelaide micromasters

    Careers of the future aren’t what they used to be. How do we study for the jobs of tomorrow if they don’t exist yet? Katrina Falkner, Head of the School of Computer Science at the University of Adelaide, has designed the next generation of study pathways that equip you with the skills you need now for tomorrow’s careers. The MicroMasters program offers self-paced online courses that can count towards a Master’s degree at the University of Adelaide. We spoke to Professor Falkner about the evolving world of computer science careers and using big data to make a big difference.

    What was your study pathway?

    I was always good at maths and science, but I was really passionate about societal issues and understanding the world around me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. It was luck that I took a computer science elective in my chemistry degree and absolutely fell in love. I started to see how technical skills, maths and logic can be tools to create solutions for real people and real problems.

    Where did you go from there?

    I completed my Honours and a PhD in computer science. In my current job, I work as an academic and I’m able to use my computer science (CS) skills to work with whole communities across Australia – which wouldn’t have been possible without taking the time to study.
    CS is such an evolving field that even now I’m constantly undertaking new online courses and learning programs to understand new areas. We’re always changing our techniques and the programming languages we use, and we’re building new ways of working with people in other industries, too.

    Why enrol in the MicroMasters program?

    Completing a traditional Master’s degree is a big commitment. The MicroMasters course from the University of Adelaide is an online course that helps you learn at your own pace, whether that’s six months or 2 years. You can enrol in one course, or complete all four. The flexibility makes it a lot easier to fit learning into everyday.

    So what’s the big deal about big data?

    We have so much data in every industry; business, health, education, but first we have to make sense of it in a meaningful way. In health, we’re able to analyse patient hospital records and share data globally, for example, to start to track trends in medical diagnoses, which gives us so much more accuracy in how we can treat people. Big data has the potential to change just about every industry we have!

    What are the career prospects for big data?

    Every industry that has data has the potential to improve the way they do business. Business, health, education, fintech; just about every sector is going to need people skilled in large-scale data analysis.

    Why did you create the MicroMasters program?

    Education should be available to everybody. The MicroMasters program attracts a broader diversity of students who are able to study when it suits them. Working in that online space and being able to communicate with students around the world provides a much richer study environment for everyone involved.

    I think the future lies in flexible learning. We know that students are going to shift careers seven times, not just changing jobs but career paths. We’re going to have to rethink the ways we structure education, and it starts here with MicroMasters from the University of Adelaide.

    Eliza Brockwell

    Want to find out how you can earn valuable skills and earn credit towards a Master’s degree at the University of Adelaide? Visit the MicroMasters website.

    Liked this profile? Read about the app saving frogs through citizen data science.

    katrina falkner University of Adelaide

    “I think the future lies in flexible learning. We know that students are going to shift careers seven times, not just changing jobs but career paths.”

    Eliza Brockwell

    Author: Eliza Brockwell

    Eliza is the Digital Producer for Careers with STEM. Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.

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