Jeff Saltz: Former Tech Executive Discusses Benefits of CCDS, iSchool Data Science Program
By Amanda Quick
Jeff Saltz is an Associate Professor at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University. With over 20 years of experience in the data science and analytics field, Saltz reflects on the future of the industry, how students can benefit from the Center for Computational and Data Sciences (CCDS) and the growth of the data science program at the iSchool.
Jeff Saltz has seen hundreds of students come and go from the iSchool since he first became a professor in 2014. While not all of his students chose to become data scientists, he believes that all everyone should obtain the skills to become “data literate.”
Along with a variety of data science courses at the iSchool, Saltz believes the CCDS gives students – undergraduate, master's, and Ph.D. – the opportunity to work with large datasets, get involved with data science projects and learn how to create detailed analyses based on insights and results.
“They [students] will be able to think more strategically about analyzing and using data,” said Saltz about getting involved with the CCDS or in the classroom. “Even if someone is not going to be a data scientist, they need to know how to use data for insight.”
More About Saltz and the iSchool Data Science Program
On any given day, you can walk by Saltz’s second-floor office and find him sitting at his desk mulling over a data science-related project. In fact, the New York native is currently working on two data science projects: “Methodologies to Improve the Process Teams Use While Performing Data Projects” and “Startup Ecosystems.”
Saltz describes his first project as Project management for Data Science:
“In software there are lots of different methodologies that teams can use, but in data science there are no, well, standard methodologies of how teams should work together,” said Saltz who explained that his different class sections are using various methodologies to determine if one solution is more viable than the other.
Saltz’s second project revolves around providing data and insights to entrepreneurs in various U.S. regions.
“I’m exploring startup communities and how do you quantify data that would be useful for entrepreneurs that are in a certain geographic area,” said Saltz who graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Computer Science and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.
Additionally, according to his bio, Saltz has been teaching at the iSchool since the fall semester of 2014; he’s taught classes such as Applied Data Science (IST 687) and Contemporary Issues in GET(GET 410). However, his relationship with SU spans more than 10 years.
“I’ve gotten to know a lot of the faculty and I like the camaraderie of the faculty and the students and it’s a really special place,” said Saltz.
The Future of the Data Science Field
Over the past few years, one of the biggest “buzz” words in the business, entrepreneurship and information fields has been Big Data. While Saltz believes that using the word Big Data could be a “fad,” he knows that businesses will continue to use data to tap into consumer insights and increase revenue.
“I do think there’s been a long trend of businesses and organizations being more data driven and that’s not going to change,” said Saltz who has worked as a Chief Technology Officer and Chief Internet Officer among other jobs for financial service companies.
Not only is Big Data a popular phrase that audiences see and hear daily, but more companies are looking for data scientists who can interpret, analyze and present data. Glassdoor even ranked “Data Scientist as the “Top Job of 2016.”
Yet, being a data scientist is a job that requires specific skills that are either learned in the classroom or university research centers such as the CCDS.
“My biggest piece of advice is to take any opportunity you can to practice analyzing data,” said Saltz.