Driving social impact

Friday, December 18, 2020

Jinjiang ‘J.J.’ Lian first realized he wanted to become a data scientist while working as a data manager for clinical research at a university healthcare facility in the US. “I noticed that many healthcare workers lacked the skill set to collect and interpret patient data correctly, which negatively impacted patient care,” he recalls. “I decided that whether I ended up in healthcare, tech, or another industry altogether, I wanted to use my data skills to help people.”

Jinjiang J.J. Lian
As J.J. flipped through graduate program brochures, Waterloo’s Masters of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (MDSAI) program caught his attention. “There are a lot of programs in computer science in Canada, but I saw how much effort Waterloo put into designing its MDSAI program,” J.J. remembers. “Professors even offer different versions of the same course to meet the needs of students with different backgrounds.” Attracted by the level of personalization available to students, as well as the abundant co-op opportunities, J.J. joined one of the first cohorts of MDSAI students at Waterloo Math.

“I ended up applying all the knowledge I had accumulated in statistics, coding, computer science, and math to my studies,” J.J. says. While he found the MDSAI program challenging, especially while juggling coursework with a teaching assistant position and co-op interviews, he enjoyed the camaraderie of untangling problems with his classmates. “I expected most students to be younger than me, so I was surprised to find that most had years of experience in diverse settings,” he reflects. “Throughout the program, I watched myself improve as I worked hard alongside my peers and learned from their perspectives.”

After graduation, J.J. will explore opportunities to apply his interest in experimental test design in an e-commerce setting. While it was his experience in healthcare that first piqued his interest in a data science career, J.J. has since realized that his skillset can make an impact in any industry. “Especially during COVID-19, we all shop online,” he points out. “Constructing a more complete, user-friendly workflow for e-commerce is a tangible way to serve people.”