James Caldwell

DAIM Paves Path to New Frontier

By: Emily Lewis

Data science is advancing the leading edge of information technology. Radford University’s Data and Information Management (DAIM) Master’s program prepares students to conquer this new frontier.

DAIM graduate James Caldwell is eager to work on the cutting edge. “DAIM is breaking into the new and exciting area of big data and touches on aspects of data science, enterprise architecture, and especially data engineering,” explained Caldwell. “Radford has prepared me to attain a job in one of those areas and has shown me what I would need to achieve to enter a particular field with confidence. The DAIM program has given me a great feeling for my future and has also been helping me with job prospects.”

Though the program covers the theoretical basics of the field, numerous hands-on activities enabled James to apply his knowledge. “I have written many papers and presented on topics at a high level just as a person would if they were presenting to the leadership of a company,” he said. “I have also written programs to demonstrate different theories that we were studying and have installed and maintained various big data systems as if we were working for a company and had to develop solutions.”

Research and coursework required Caldwell to think critically and apply emerging technology to solve challenging problems. “Sometimes there’s failure and we learn from it and know what works or come up with ways to make it work and determine whether or not those ideas are viable,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell appreciates the graduate class format that encourages discussion and interaction, “The classroom environment itself reminds me of being at a round table discussion, throwing ideas around or working with a team to develop projects,” he stated.

Caldwell wasn’t always so confident in the data science arena. In fact, he feared that he might struggle in the program, but with the support of his professors he was able to tackle his tasks every day. “I thought I would be overwhelmed and not make it through the program, but instead I learned a tremendous amount and know where I want to take my career after graduation,” said Caldwell.

During his time in DAIM, Caldwell was able to grow from challenges he faced and learn from his experiences. “In the Information Analytics class, we used machine learning, deep learning, and various statistical modeling tools and we had to develop a hypothesis,” explained Caldwell.  “My main project initially was to perform predictive analytics and it became a demonstration of deep learning and classification based on image; it was very challenging and now I want to explore AI even more!”

Caldwell is interviewing with several major technology companies considering positions as a software engineer, data analyst, Splunk engineer, and data engineer. His dream job is to be a full stack data scientist. “To fulfill my goal, I have to gain experience and expert knowledge in certain areas that we covered in DAIM,” stated Caldwell. DAIM built the foundation Caldwell needs to pursue the path to his dream job.