“In 2012 the buzz word was Data Science – in 2020 it is Data Engineering.” These words were uttered by the President of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), Prof José Moura, at Stellenbosch University in October 2019 during a combined SAIEE/IEEE lecture on the topic of Data (Big), Computing (Fast), and Algorithms (Learning) – The New Opportunities for a Bright Future. The words of Prof Moura highlight the importance of the newly introduced focus area in Data Engineering in the BEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering programme.
In February 2020 the Faculty of Engineering welcomed its first intake for the new focus area in Data Engineering. The purpose of the new focus area in Data Engineering is to prepare students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution where the work environment has fundamentally changed and there is a flood of data that needs to be structured, modelled and analysed for data-driven organisations, to discover the underlying knowledge.
Prof Herman Engelbrecht, Chair of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, the home department of this new, exciting programme, says: “Our initial target for this programme was 30 so we are very satisfied with the 37 students who registered. We believe the data engineers we deliver will be the pioneers in the new career opportunities that are created as a result of Data Science and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
The first part of the programme lays a basis of mathematics, natural sciences and engineering sciences, with a greater emphasis on statistics and computer science than in the other BEng (Electrical and Electronic) focus areas. From the first year, the focus area in Data Engineering is built on the foundations of Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. The undergraduate modules are presented in collaboration with Prof Andries Engelbrecht, the Voigt Chair in Data Science, as well as the Divisions of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, and the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science. At Stellenbosch University there are numerous opportunities for students who want to pursue postgraduate studies in Data Science and Data Engineering.
The Faculty of Engineering at Stellenbosch University also recently received confirmation that the new BEng degree in Data Engineering will be fully accredited by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) for registration as Professional Engineer.
Prof Engelbrecht concludes: “This new specialisation programme supports the School for Data Science and Computational Thinking at Stellenbosch University that was launched last year. We are preparing data engineers that can work in any organisation that has complex systems and generates data. From corporations to consulting companies, from retail to renewables, from manufacturing to mining, and from finance to fashion: Data Engineering offers innovative solutions to real-world challenges.”