“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Malcolm X
Data Science as a fuel for transformation
In the 2018-19 Union Budget, Niti Aayog was mandated to establish a National Program on AI. This highlighted the urgency and importance the Indian Government is placing on the need to strategise the approach on AI and recognise its potential in transforming economies and providing social benefits.
A study by EY and NASSCOM – Future of Jobs in India: A 2022 Perspective 2017 found that by 2022, 46% of the workforce will be engaged in entirely new jobs that do not exist today, or will be deployed in jobs requiring radically different skill-sets. These potential transformation leaders are to be created today. As per data from our Analytics & Data Science Jobs study 2019, the total number of analytics and data science job positions available are 97,000. Out of these, 97% job openings in India are on a full-time basis while 3% are part-time or contractual.
These potential Transformational Leaders need to be created today!
In its recommendations on skilling/re-skilling the workforce, the Niti Aayog’s vision document listed one of the aspects as “Recognition and standardisation of informal training institutes”; it cites the example of International School of Engineering (INSOFE) that provides globally recognised certifications in Data Science as the way to having recognised education programs meeting high quality standards.
AIM spoke to INSOFE to understand how they are creating transformation leaders in Data Science and driving the government’s vision of #AIforAll.
Research, Consulting and Product Development as foundations for Data Science Education
INSOFE was launched in 2011 when Data Science/AI/ML were still practically unknown terms in India. Today, with 60+ Data Science thought leadership team, INSOFE takes pride in being the largest group of AI and ML specialists in India that are fanatic about applied engineering, innovation and product development. They are driven by their passion to impart world class education in the Data Science landscape.
The 60+ Faculty Members of INSOFE have:
- Filed over 75 patents and built two commercial products with 2 more in the pipeline
- Published over 1000+ research publications in various fields
- Solved pressing AI and Data Science problems innovatively in over 20 Fortune 500 companies
Dr. Dakshinamurthy established AI for Business group at INSOFE. His focus is on developing frameworks and tools that help businesses adopt AI systematically and efficiently. Researchers at INSOFE are currently building pathbreaking tools and models for financial markets, manufacturing and retail industries. In terms of technologies, their research is focused on NLP, Computer Vision, IOT, Blockchain and Deep Learning.
Importantly, this research and consulting expertise becomes the nucleus around which a cascaded learning model is developed based on the needs across various industry verticals.
“We realise that AI is growing at a breakneck speed” expresses Dr. Dakshinamurthy, “and the best in the world are publishing models on a daily basis. INSOFE’s technical modules create engineers who can implement these in the industry,” he adds.
Recognising that Data Science is more than coding is important
“We also recognise that future Data Scientists should not only be good at quantitative and programming skills, but should be holistic thinkers and have creativity and articulation capabilities.” says Dr. Sridhar Pappu, co-founder and Executive VP – Academics, he added that
“INSOFE was adding compulsory Design Thinking and Critical Thinking courses in the PGP program in Data Science, perhaps the first of its kind effort anywhere in the world”. This, Dr. Sridhar feels, will be a key skill for the Movers and Shakers that will complement the strong, world-class technical skills INSOFE already imparts in its programs.
Dr. Parag Mantri is one of the principal investigators in the IOT lab at INSOFE. Together with the Deep Learning team they are building a service robot, ARIA. “The micro-specialisation electives help organisations and students build very specific advanced technical skills in frontier areas,” adds Dr. Parag Mantri, who heads the internships and Career Development aspects at INSOFE.
The core technical, business and humanities courses integrated with micro-specializations followed by an Internship, creates highly qualified Data Scientists who can tackle interesting problems in the industry.
Dr. Kishore leads the Deep learning research. He is developing self evolving neural networks that could substantially reduce engineer time in experimentation. He also is building a video analytics group addressing challenges that could make self driving cars to video streaming a much better experience.
“Super specialisations are the next step,” beams Dr. Kishore Konda, Associate Dean of R&D at INSOFE,”For example, my super specialisation in Advanced AI teaches students the state of the art in NLP and Vision.”
“The PGP curriculum is also constantly updated based on our experiences doing consulting and conducting corporate training programs right from the CEO level to the engineers who build AI solutions,” adds Dr. Rohit Lotlikar, Dean for Consulting and Prof. Anuradha Sharma, Dean for Corporate Transformation Services.
Domain specific AI Education (AI in X)
“We at INSOFE have chosen to be specialists in AI and ML and breathe and live just that,” declares a very passionate Dr. Venkatesh Sunkad, Dean – New Academic Products. “My faculty are researching and teaching these skills. But, I also recognize that AI and ML can influence just about any vertical. To create Movers and Shakers in those verticals, students need expertise in those specific domains,” adds Dr. Sunkad.
INSOFE has tied up with some of the leading educational institutions in France, Canada, United States and India to provide collaborative academic programs. INSOFE teaches AI and Data Science and the partner institute teaches the specific domain at depth. As a result, the student picks both domain and problem-solving skills from the respective experts. “This is in line with the #AIforAll vision that requires high quality programs, which are evidenced by such strong collaborations, compared with randomly sprouting institutes/programs whenever a new buzzword comes along in the industry,” says Dr. Manoj Duse, Dean – International Collaborations.
In these super specialisations and twinning Masters programs, students start their journey at INSOFE campuses in India and move to the international location for their advanced semesters. The key differentiators like Internship culminating with a Masters degree and associated work benefits give the student a chance to be a part of the AI Revolution that is gripping the Industry 4.0 by storm.
The Masters program offered in association with Rennes School of Business, France opens up the opportunities for aspiring Data Scientists across Europe as there is growing demand for engineers with strong AI and ML fundamentals. The Masters program is strengthened with the opportunity for paid internships just after one semester in France.
INSOFE’s unabashed commitment to product development helps the students develop outstanding business acumen. Dr. Praphul’s ‘Koinearth’ is one of the early start-up products from INSOFE and it is gaining traction in the industry.
Laying the foundations for a great career in Data Science
“Training and churning out numbers is just not the objective with which INSOFE runs; it is the continuous endeavour to be recognised as an Educational Institution with a commitment to providing quality education through sound research foundations.”, says Lt. Suryaprakash Kompalli, PhD, who is also an adjunct faculty at Carnegie Mellon University – Africa campus and runs a nonprofit organization teaching digital skills to underprivileged kids in village schools.
Over the past years, INSOFE’s students have ranged from fresh graduates to professionals having over 20 years of industry experience. The dedicated Career Services Team interacts with the students to help them develop the attitude to complement their aptitude. Their methodical approach to identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a student and creating a roadmap for personal development ensures best career opportunities are available for INSOFE students.
The discussion paper from Niti Aayog reveals that India will face a demand-supply gap of 2,00,000 data analytics professionals by 2020.
“We would like to be identified as the go to place for students who want to fill a small and yet significant part of that gap. We want to nurture those who want to be entrepreneurs, who want to develop disruptive products or maybe who have a penchant for research,” says Dr. Dakshinamurthy in a reflective mood.
“At INSOFE, we are excited about three things” conclude Dr. Anand Narasimhamurthy and Dr. Srinivasa Varadharajan, Dean of R&D. “Building cool AI and ML solutions for various verticals, master the engineering under all the business constraints and teach it really well to all the stakeholders,” they reiterated. Dr. Sridhar Pappu echoed a similar sentiment, “We are not in the business of selling certificates; we are in the profession of educating people. And that is how we are creating Movers and Shakers in Data Science. We believe we will play a strong role in #AIforAll.”
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Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.