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Cutting edge “big data” at Turin University

Fantini (Evo): “Turin has been the choice for our company’s HQ thanks to this innovative degree”

December 10, 2016

Turin is the Italian center of big data excellence. In 2017, the first class of a new Master’s Degree in Data Science, the first of its kind in Italy, will complete their studies; taught entirely in English, this degree is aimed to have an international appeal.

Data scientists are among the most sought-after professionals in Italy and worldwide, as reported from a recent study presented by LinkedIn. So much that the Ministry of Education, University and Research has created a committee focused on big data which recognized “the urgent need to integrate the skills of different professionals in today’s existence, as digital natives, opens a world of working opportunities” and “training programs are a necessary step to achieve this.”

In the meantime, this process is already happening. Both large companies and startups have in fact started the hunt for undergrads in Stochastics and Data Science – the official name of this new degree – and some students have already found a job or a training opportunity, before even finishing their thesis. This is the case of Elena Pesce, 23 years: she plans to write her thesis on the impact of promotions on retail sales: “I chose this course of advanced studies to complete what I started in my 3-year studying Mathematical Statistics and data processing Information Technology (Smid, Genoa) so I can master the statistics and computer skills needed to apply analytical models to real data” – explains the student – “The Master’s degree offers vast theoretical and practical approaches, as well as numerous opportunities to meet with companies. And to attend a course in English is a big plus.”

In March Elena Pesce will start an internship and a thesis project at Evo Pricing – a predictive analytics startup – to analyze the impact of multiple promotions, when there are many commercial offers going on in parallel. “What I’m learning at university is very inspiring” – adds Elena – “but I can’t wait to compare it with data and real customers: it’s not only an opportunity, but also a whole new challenge.”

The Master’s program in Stochastics and Data Science was started in the academic year 2014/2015 and currently the first cycle of biennial studies is graduating. It was born thanks to the intuition of a cutting-edge academic pool led by Laura Sacerdote, Ordinary Professor of Probability and Statistics, inspired by European and US models, it is set to become a flagship degree in the international scene.

“The degree is multidisciplinary, entirely in English, and it has great presence of foreign students and teachers. For this reason, we have chosen to base our Italian office in Turin, after being incorporated in London,” explains Fabrizio Fantini, founder of Evo Pricing, who does not hide the healthy contention for those professionals among companies of all sizes. This is the “first formative offer of its kind in Italy” as stated on the presentation of the University of Turin: “applied mathematics, probability, statistics, machine learning and computer science are essential skills for emerging professionals in an era with an enormous availability of data, which enable graduates to build and manipulate mathematical models under uncertainty (stochastics) and analyze large datasets and with complex structures (date science), using a deep understanding of the underlying mathematical structures.”

The university boasts collaborations with innovative research institutes and companies; for example Evo Pricing regularly organizes meetings and seminars dedicated to students: “As early as three years before Amazon announced the opening of a science data center in Turin we sensed the great potential of this area” adds Fantini, member of the steering committee of the new degree of studies, along with other fifteen members, from McKinsey to Intesa Sanpaolo.

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