Sarthak Dawar

Alum Sarthak Dawar Aims to Use Applied Data Analytics to Improve Healthcare

Sarthak Dawar
Data Scientist Intern at Telenav, Inc.
MS in Applied Data Analytics (MET’22)

What do you find most fascinating about the discipline of applied data analytics? Do you have a particular focus within the broader field?
The fascinating thing about this discipline is that it requires a combination of computer science and mathematics skills, the two subjects I’m passionate about. It’s an amalgamation of my two favorite things! The modern world runs on data; it’s everywhere, in every discipline, and is increasing in size each year. This presents many exciting opportunities for people with data analytics skills to use them to improve life across various sectors. Data analytics is a vast field, and I’m still learning and experimenting. I’m excited about machine learning and would love to learn more and work in this field.

Did you always intend on going back to school, or did the need arise at a particular moment?
Yes, I always intended to return to school, but it took me about 12 years after earning my undergrad degree! I wanted to gain some experience, so I worked in computer science as a software developer for almost ten years. I frequently interacted with our newly formed data analytics team toward the end, and my interest was instantly piqued. At that moment, I knew I had found the field I’d like to learn more about, so I returned to school.

Congratulations on your high achievement in the Master of Science in Applied Data Analytics (MSADA) program and your Award for Excellence in your studies! Looking back, what do you consider to be the main ingredients of your success?
First and foremost was my passion for computer science and mathematics. This helped me tremendously during my academic program. Secondly, my experience as a software developer gave me real-world problem-solving skills and knowledge of customer needs and behaviors. This came in handy, as many projects I worked on at MET had real-world datasets about user behaviors, so I was in a better position to apply my skills. Third, the faculty at MET was excellent, and I enjoyed learning under talented professors who care about their students.

How were you able to successfully balance your studies with your commitments outside the classroom?
As a working professional for the last ten years, I was apprehensive about going back to school, studying for long hours, and that, too, in a new country (I’m from India!). To counter this apprehension, I started doing some online courses about six months before coming to the US and joining BU MET. During the daytime, I worked at my job, and in the evening, I took online courses, fulfilled assignments, and completed small projects. This helped me to get into the habit of daily learning.

I joined BU MET as a full-time student and did not hold a job. However, I did work part-time in the BU Spark! Student lab, where my work was closely related to data analytics. Therefore it was easy to balance the work with the classroom!

I missed my family, and the initial few months were hard as I felt homesick. Also, COVID was at its peak, and I only had a little in-person interaction with fellow students. So I explored Boston on my own and sometimes met new people in coffee shops or pubs!

Was your success in the program driven by a particular outcome—such as professional advancement, educational achievement, personal satisfaction, or something else?
The primary reason was the personal satisfaction that comes to me when I learn something new. Data analytics perfectly combines my passions: computer science and mathematics. Learning a new field that combines your passions will always feel satisfying. I also considered the professional advancement the degree would bring me. The world now runs on data, and data analysts/scientists are in huge demand. The skills and degree acquired at MET will help me navigate this exciting field with a huge potential for professional advancement.

Is there a particular course or project that enhanced your experience in the MSADA program?
Yes, Advanced Machine Learning and Neural Networks and Foundations of Machine Learning were two subjects that I thoroughly enjoyed. The topics covered in these courses were extensive and had a lot of real-world applications.

Both were taught by Prof. Farshid Alizadeh-Shabdiz, a fantastic teacher and an even more amazing human being! He has a lot of industry experience that he brings to the class. He interacts with students and encourages them to approach a problem differently. I was highly impressed with the depth of his knowledge and the personal touch he provided to each student in the class.

How do you plan to apply the skills and competencies you gained during your studies moving forward? What is next in store for you?
I plan to work in an industry where my data analysis skills can help change people’s lives. Especially in the healthcare field, much exciting new analysis is being done through machine learning algorithms that allow doctors to detect or diagnose diseases. I want one day to work in that field. I have joined Telenav, Inc. as a data scientist intern, working on an exciting new project.

You were recognized by faculty and peers for your hard work and dedication to the MSADA program. What “words of advice” or encouragement have served as a guiding principle, or simply inspiration, for you?
I was inspired by Dr. Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 Rules For Life. The book stimulated me intellectually and inspired me to live a fulfilling and meaningful life. The book’s insights helped me focus, kept me dedicated and motivated, and made me a better person.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I want to thank BU and MET for such an incredible journey in this new country. You provided me with excellent faculty, resources, and the opportunity to interact with a fantastic community of talented and diverse students. I loved my time at BU Spark! and the great people I worked with. I want to thank Ziba Cranmer, Greta Bruce, Ian Saucy, Elise Brown and Rishabh Nayak for their support and encouragement.

I would also like to thank Prof. Alizadeh-Shabdiz, an excellent teacher and a fantastic mentor. He has always given me well-intentioned and good academic and personal advice.

And lastly, I loved Boston! This is a wonderful city, and even more beautiful are its people, who are so friendly and welcoming.

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