Meet the iX ’16 Data Science Professor: Andrew Collier

Andrew Collier (@DataWookie) is a data omnivore. He grew up in Durban, South Africa and took the long and scenic route via Antarctica and Potchefstroom to a PhD in Physics from the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm. After toiling in the ivory towers of academia, he parlayed his skills and experience into Data Science. He doesn’t get to the icy continent any more, but he works on mountains of data and fascinating problems every day. Andrew is an inveterate hacker and runner, happiest either cobbling together tools and data or running over the rolling hills of Natal.

What do you love most about the Data Science industry?

  1. The pace at which Data Science is evolving. Ideas that were outright fantasy a few years ago are now a reality (or very soon will be).
  2. The fact that anybody with a computer and a network connection can now engage in Science.
  3. The availability of phenomenal Open Source tools, which has democratized the discipline.

Why did you decide to get involved with teaching?

I get a kick out of speaking. I love my work. Teaching is the ideal way of merging the two.

What are you most looking forward to about iXperience this summer?

Spending time working on and talking about Data and Data Science with a bunch of like-minded people. Teaching a bit and learning a lot. Running on the mountain. Listening to the fog horn.

How do you see the Data Science industry changing in the next 10 years?

I’d like to see a greater emphasis on the “Science” in Data Science. Rigorously applying the scientific method is critical to generating sturdy results and conclusions. The relentless expansion of storage and computing power will mean that a larger set of problems will become tractable.

What skills will iX students have after graduating from your class?

Students will be able to take a Data Science project from inception to completion. They’ll be able to formulate questions and hypotheses, gather data, analyse the data, build and interpret statistical models and draw meaningful conclusions. Finally they’ll be able to present their results in a way that will make people sit up and take notice.

What’s one piece of advice that you have for the iX class of 2016?

Use Git, it’s your friend. Get comfortable on the command line.

What’s your spirit animal?

I’m a hybrid: 50% dairy cow, 50% leatherback turtle.

What matters most to you in life?

My lovely wife and daughter. Long runs and short naps. Rolling paths through pine forests. Garlic. Coffee. Red wine. Speaking. Data. Metadata. Version Control. Having the books.