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Categories: Spotlights
17 December, 2018
by Nicole Nelson
Content Marketing Manager
Meredith Dodd is an expert Data Science instructor at Woz U! Read about her experience, the field of Data Science, and our program in this instructor spotlight.

In the early 2000’s, companies were receiving colossal amounts of data and information. By 2008, the term “data science” was coined as specialists were hired to coordinate and interpret these large pools of information. The Data Science field has and continued to evolve for a decade, and is now considered to be one of the most sought-after career paths for trained professionals. Glassdoor has ranked Data Scientist as the “#1 Best Job in America,” for the third year in a row. As the industry advances, instructors like Meredith Dodd have appropriated the responsibility to instruct those interested in joining the ever-growing Data Science field.

LinkedIn recently listed Data Science as one of the most promising jobs of 2018. With little indication of the industry slowing, there has never been a better time to gain an education in the field and dive in. When we asked Meredith exactly is a Data Scientist? She said:

“A Data Scientist will analyze data to find meaningful insights that can help improve business practices and communities.  Then a good data scientist will come up with ways to visualize that data and make it accessible to the layperson, so that leaders can easily make evidence-based decisions.”

With a Ph. D. in Health Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington, Meredith joined the Data Science field over 8 years ago. Meredith worked both at the chronic pain clinic and U.S. Army Public Health Center to help improve their programs and crunch numbers within the data science industries, before settling into her position as a respected instructor here at Woz U.  As the industry continues to grow, Meredith likes to continue to learn more in her field by keeping active in various data science related associations, such as the American Evaluation Association.  In her own words, “If I stop learning, I’m probably dead!”

During her 8 years of field experience, Meredith impressively wrote over 30 contributing articles to Data Science! Those interested in seeing her professional work can view her pieces “An Evaluation of Army Wellness Center Clients’ Health-Related Outcomes” and “Do Comorbid Fibromyalgia Diagnoses Change After a Functional Restoration Program in Patients With Chronic Disabling Occupational Musculoskeletal Disorders?” by vising this link  HERE. We at Woz U are extremely proud of this research and findings Meredith has contributed to patient health.

While she’s not writing impressive research articles or helping students, Meredith has a long list of hobbies. She dabbles in almost everything you can think of, listing baking, cosplay, quilting, leather-working, hiking, camping, ballroom dancing, fencing, and geology as “a few of her favorites.” How she squeezes in time to be an expert data scientist is beyond us!

An estimate of over 2 million positions will be available by 2020 in the Data Science field with most being entry level positions. Because of the large demand in the industry, most companies are looking for those with high technical skills who are able to drive strategy in their organization.

The most frequently asked topics around Data Science have to do with people seeking what in-demand languages, frameworks, and skills they should learn to enter the field. Meredith took it upon herself to create some quick and simple reference charts to send to students and anyone asking about Data Science in general. This is a great reference for those just starting out in Data Science!

data science programdata science program job specific


Specific to Woz U curriculum, students can expect to learn highly-sought after programming languages including Python, R, and SQL in addition to popular software such as Tableau, Spark, and Hadoop. Graduates can expect to enter into related fields such as programming, research and communication. When asked what a more specific career path looks like for Woz U Data Science graduates, Meredith responded “They’ll start with entry level data scientist or data analyst / business analyst positions, and then work their way up to senior data scientists or researchers.”

The data science field is a rapidly growing one, with potential to showcase exceptional human development. To those who dream of entering the industry, Meredith gives this sound advice:

“Bring your curiosity and a passion for learning! A good data scientist is always asking questions and is able to blend detail-oriented and big picture thinking together seamlessly.”

Q&A: We sat down and asked Meredith her thoughts on Data Science and Woz U:

  • Are there any myths or common misunderstandings that people tend to believe that aren’t true about the data science field?

There seems to be a lot of snobbery out there right now; some folks are claiming to be “real” data scientists and denouncing others as “fake.” This seems silly to me! Data science is a field that’s only taken off in the last 6-8 years, and so we still aren’t able to fully define it.  People are coming from data science from all different perspectives: statistics, communications, programming, business, and so everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. You won’t ever be an expert at every single data science task. Woz U tries to bring all these perspectives together so even if you encounter the “haters” you’ll be prepared.

  • How has the field changed since you entered it?

When I first entered my doctoral program, data science was not even a thing! It wasn’t a buzz word, and no one was talking about it yet, though data science tasks were still being performed.  There was less data being captured, and those that played with data did not always put it to practical use. One of the things I love about this movement towards data science is that we are not only analyzing data, but drawing insights from it that helps improve the world around us, whether that’s increasing profits for a business or bettering the lives of communities.

  • How did you come to be teaching at Woz U?

 During my Ph.D., I was performing data science and statistics for a chronic pain clinic, using data to help improve their patient experience and predict the patients who would recover well and those who may need extra help.  I realized that I loved the number crunching more than the psychology aspect, so I then took a data science job contracting with the U.S. Army Public Health Center. My data science skills helped improve programs that were invaluable to Soldiers and their Families. When I was ready for a change, I found Woz U, which allows me to work from home in my dream state, South Dakota!

  • What can students expect from this 33-week online course?

The course is broken into 3-week modules and a six-week final project where students are able to show off their knowledge to fellow peers and potential employers. In each 3-week module, students will have a variety of learning experiences, including reading through curriculum, watching videos, knowledge testing, hands-on activities, and assignments. Students also meet with peer mentors each week for personalized one-on-one interaction. All students will be part of our integrated data science community on slack, and will be able to pop into my daily office hours for additional support.

  • What are the advantages of having a mentor?

The Woz-U mentoring program means that you will always have time blocked out to get your questions answered each week, and your mentor can provide hands-on support at others times as well to help you through the material if you get stuck.

  • Why did you choose to teach at Woz U, specifically? 

“The thing I love about Woz U is that they are trying to shake up education in a good way! They have smashed bootcamps and higher education together in such a way that you get the best of both worlds – financial aid and personalized instruction from higher education and agility and job-focused training from bootcamps.  Woz U also has a Woz. For. Life. program that allows students to come back and view updated curriculum and brush up on skill sets for free, for life.”

  • What is something you would like prospective students to know about you/your teaching style?

I will never, ever give up on you.  I get personally invested in seeing every student I work with succeed and I will do absolutely everything I can to help you!  

  • How can interested students meet you before committing to the program?

I host webinars almost every month to answer questions about the Data Science field, our program, and more! You can find them by visiting our event page at woz-u.com/events!

 

 

 

 

professional picture

Meredith Dodd

Data Science Instructor at Woz U

 

Click on our programs below and launch your career in technology today!

Data Science

Software Development

Cyber Security

 

Want to meet more of our expert Woz U Instructors? Register for our upcoming webinars & workshops HERE!

Nicole Nelson

Nicole is Woz U’s social media and content manager who loves to build communities and break though barriers to find common ground. After graduating college, Nicole joined Woz U as an intern and quickly rose up in the ranks to become the voice of the brand on social. When she’s not documenting Woz U’s Demo Day, you can find her cheering on her local soccer team or getting her ‘zen' on practicing yoga.

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