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Stellenbosch University starts with the training of Data Engineers

BEng (E&E) Data Engineering Specialisation

The Faculty of Engineering at Stellenbosch University will introduce a new BEng degree in Data Engineering from February 2020. This degree is a new specialisation stream in the existing undergraduate degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, the BEng (E&E).

“The purpose of this new specialisation in Data Engineering is to prepare our students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution where the world of work has fundamentally changed and there is a deluge of data that needs to be structured, modelled and analysed. The purpose is to enable data-led organisations to discover the underlying knowledge and make well-informed decisions,” says Prof Wikus van Niekerk, Dean of Engineering at SU.

Data Engineering encompasses all tasks required to make data available for analytics, knowledge discovery and decision-making processes. Data engineers develop and maintain an organisation’s data pipeline systems, and implement algorithms to transform data into a useful format for analysis.

Tasks include the collection of data, storing data, data synchronization, data transformation, data cleansing, data governance, and the development of data models.

Data engineers must have technical skills, including a deep knowledge of database design and multiple programming languages. Furthermore, they need excellent communication skills in order to present their findings in a manner that can be easily understood by an audience.

From the first year of study, the Data Engineering specialisation is built on the solid foundation of Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. The specialisation also introduces new undergraduate modules in Data Engineering that cover topics such as Big Data Platforms, Probabilistic Graphical Models for Machine Learning and Fundamentals of Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence. Students will develop the engineering skills to create mathematical, physical and statistical models of real-world systems, including data systems.

Upon obtaining the qualification, Stellenbosch University’s new Data Engineers will be able to integrate these knowledge areas to critically analyse complex systems in order to engineer innovative solutions to real-world problems to effect fundamental societal impact. This will be demonstrated by students successfully completing a capstone project related to Data Engineering in their final year of study.

The existing BEng programmes and specialisations will have a limited exposure to Data Science, but the new specialisation in Data Engineering will go into depth into the mathematical and statistical fundamentals of Data Science.

This initiative supports the soon to be established School for Data Science and Computational Thinking at Stellenbosch University.

“The School will work across all our faculties in an interdisciplinary way and will span the entire academic project, from under- and postgraduate training to research and specialist consultation. The Faculty of Engineering will play a key role in the new School because it has always been future focused with cutting-edge research,” SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers adds.

·      Prospective students interested in pursuing a career in Data Engineering are encouraged to apply before 30 June 2019 to be considered for admission into the BEng (Electrical and Electronic) Data Engineering specialisation in 2020. Late applications will be considered, but their admission will be subject to availability of places.

·      To apply, visit www.sun.ac.za and select “Students” and then “Prospective students”. This website also gives further information such as the admission requirements.

·      Prospective students can contact Mr August Engelbrecht (august@sun.ac.za, tel 021 808 3947) for more information about this programme.

·      Media enquiries and industry partners: Contact Prof Wikus van Niekerk at wikus@sun.ac.za, 082 256 4131 for more information.

MORE INFORMATION

WHAT DO DATA ENGINEERS DO? 

Data Engineers are responsible for the discovery of trends in data sets and the development of algorithms to help make raw data more useful. This requires a significant set of technical skills, including a deep knowledge of database design and multiple programming languages. 

Data engineers are often responsible for building algorithms to give easier access to structured and unstructured data, but this requires an understanding of an organisation’s objectives in using large datasets. Data Engineers need excellent communication skills to interface with various stakeholders inside and outside the organization in order to understand what business leaders want to gain from Big Data and also to present their findings in a manner that can be easily understood by the audience.

Data Engineering encompasses all tasks required to make data available for analytics, knowledge discovery and decision-making processes. The main task of the Data Engineer is to develop and maintain an organisation’s data pipeline systems, and to implement algorithms to transform data into a useful format for analysis. The tasks of a data engineer include the collection of data, storing data, data synchronization, data transformation, data cleansing, data governance, and the development of data models.