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U Albany Students Prototype Dashboards for External 'Client'

Proclaimed the "sexiest job of the 21st Century," by Harvard Business Review, fledgling data scientists may soon need to show they know how to apply what they're learning before hordes of additional students flood the field. That's exactly what four students at the University of Albany College of Computing and Information did when they undertook a data visualization project for the state's Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).

The team worked out of U Albany's Center for Technology in Government (CTG) to create a prototype design of a new dashboard for MTA decision-makers. When the new reporting interface was done, the students had the opportunity to present it in MTA's corporate offices.

The students converted sample MTA reports and datasets with tens of millions of records into more "usable visualizations," that provided at-a-glance comparisons across yearly, monthly and daily periods to help the viewers see trends and make projections. During the work they had the opportunity to interact with MTA personnel via online conferencing. The resulting reporting system allows the user to interact with the reports by choosing different parameters and changing chart display types.

"This project has definitely made me consider a career in data visualization," said new U Albany graduate Greg Venech. "The environment at CTG is like none other and provided me a great place to transition into a real work environment."

Added graduate student Ping Li, "The most valuable aspect is that we created real value, for real enterprise. At the same time, we practiced skills we learned at school. I can sum up my experience as: team work, communication skills and passion!"

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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