Introducing Data Science to Universities
- Dr Ivan Lukovic Interview

Danica Bozin, Serbia

Marketing Manager at Data Science Conference / 4.0,
Physics student

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
- Malcolm X

More often than not, universities fail to include new disciplines and sciences into their curriculum. This is definitely not the case with Faculty of Technical Sciences, University of Novi Sad (FTN). Dr Ivan Lukovic, a professor at the FTN, is explaining what it is like to introduce such a cutting edge course at a university which is trying to follow the trends of the job market. Last year they enrolled first generation of students to the first data science university program in Serbia and here’s what he had to say.

Starting a University Course from Scratch

“When creating a new course you aren’t starting from zero, because the university already has many resources and knowledge needed”, says Ivan. In that sense, data science is not a field that is completely separate from everything that most universities already offer - computer science, applied mathematics, mechanics - it’s actually an integral part of many STEM fields and when creating a new course we are trying to have all these people sit at the same table and cooperate. Sharing the knowledge between fields is becoming incredibly important for data science and that’s what we tried to do at FTN. The only truly new thing is the way you would compose such a course and how much focus will be on what.

What does a data scientist need

Interdisciplinarity is something that is mostly associated with data science. It’s not a traditional field, not what we’re (especially older generations) are used to. Ivan thinks that a strong background in computer science is a good start for a data scientist as well. Add to that applied mathematics and statistics, and some psychology and systems design and that is already looking like a profile of a real world data scientist. Other than that, you may become specialized and with some imagination you could apply data science to almost any modern field like economics, finance, computer games or telecommunications, our interviewee says.

Is there understanding for data science from the academic institutions and their employees in Serbia

It was never directly measured, but Ivan thinks we have a chance to be great in data science, however, there are many challenges like how to implement our understanding into tangible courses or methods. We do have the resources but we need to figure out how to become competitive, as FTN introduced its data science course to first 60 students in 2017 and MIT and Stanford started in 2016. So we are not late, as he goes on to mention, but it’s important that we keep going and improve our courses as we go to be able to become leaders in this field.

"Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”

- Anthony J. D'Angelo

To hear more about what Ivan has to say, check out the full interview. It’s 12 minutes long but it’s worth it if you’re interested in data science education! Additionally, why not subscribe to our newsletter to hear about other interviews and many perks we offer to our subscribers like discounts for DSC and many other conferences :)

Stay tuned until next Thursday!