Information Quality Program Graduate Abhishek Kumar Helps Amazon Organize its Data

Abhishek Kumar is a 2015 graduate of the Master of Science in Information Quality (MSIQ) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock). Abhishek recently accepted a Data Engineer position with Amazon in Seattle, WA. Amazon provides the world’s largest online retail service. Amazon also provides a number of other services such as audio and video streaming and cloud computing services. By revenue, Amazon is the largest internet company in the world. In this article, he shares the story of his education and work experiences in his own words.

“In my Data Engineer role at Amazon, I work on the Financial Data Lake and the ETL pipelines streaming billions of records each day. I also work on the data warehouse used for predictive modeling and business intelligence. There I am helping solve complex, data-related issues in the financial technology (Fin Tech) industry. At Amazon, I am fortunate to have to the opportunity to work on many leading edge technologies such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Spark, Redshift, and many other Big Data tools.”

“Prior to accepting my position at Amazon in June 2018, I worked as a Solutions Developer for Acxiom Corporation in Little Rock, AR. At Acxiom, I helped deliver solutions for clients processing petabytes of data and developed data pipelines into commercial databases. I also developed programs and tools in the Hadoop environment necessary to meet the client’s data requirements. At Acxiom, I used my prior knowledge and experience in the Big Data environment to setup workflows using tools such as Hive and HBase to meet ad hoc analytical requirements on very-large data stores.”

“Prior to working at Acxiom, my first job after graduation from the MSIQ program at UA Little Rock was as a Data Quality Analyst for the Arkansas Department of Education’s (ADE) Research and Technology Division. First, working as a student intern, then as a full-time employee, I learned to use Hadoop map/reduce, Hive, and custom Java applications to process large volumes of data. While at ADE, I helped develop a data platform called the Arkansas Longitudinal Data System (ALDS). ALDS is an entity resolution (data integration) service capable of processing millions of records. ALDS is also an entity identity information management system able to perform identity resolution, identity capture, and identity update on an internal identity knowledgebase. The system is still being used by various state agencies to support data matching and longitudinal studies.”

“In another assignment at ADE, I developed a data profiling tool called ADE-DPS (Data Profiling System), specifically for education data. ADE-DPS performs specific profiling tasks while also producing business rules for ALDS and makes entropy calculations used to determine the accuracy of ALDS.”

“As far as my personal history, I am originally from India where I completed my undergraduate from Loyola Academy in Hyderabad, Telangana, majoring in Computer Science and Engineering. I also hold a Post-Graduate Diploma in Computer Applications from Sikkim Manipal University.”

“In India, I had the opportunity to gain some industry experience by working two years for Cognizant Technology Solutions. At Cognizant, I worked as a Data Expert, SQL Developer, and Programmer on a number of different projects, mostly concerned with data integration, data warehousing, and application development.”

“While working at Cognizant at my first job in the role of Data Expert and SQL Developer, I had a pretty good exposure to the field of data, and I understood its day-to-day Importance. It was then I started exploring career options where I could specialize in the field of data quality management. At that time, one of my very good friends, Mohammed Mahmood, was already pursuing his MSIQ degree at UA Little Rock and told me about the program. Through Mohammed, I connected with Dr. John R. Talburt, the Coordinator of the MSIQ program. Dr. Talburt was a great help to me in providing the bridge to my next career option. After many email exchanges with Dr. Talburt, I decided to enroll in the MSIQ program at UA Little Rock with Dr. Talburt as my advisor. It turned out to be one of the best decision I have made so far. The information quality graduate program at Little Rock is unique. It is the only program specializing in information quality graduate degrees. The curriculum is always up to date with the latest technology being used in industry. Students in program not only get the opportunity to work in their area of study, but they can also share their knowledge and experience with their fellow classmates. The program exposes students to many different ideas and technologies to help them decide on a career option and the job role likely to be the best fit for their skills and interests.”

“I was a full time, on-campus student in the MSIQ program from August 2013 to May 2015. The MSIQ program was a great experience for me, and it helped me grow a lot in terms technology and knowledge of the data industry. I was particularly inspired by the courses Entity Resolution, Information Quality Tools, Information Visualization, and the Capstone Project. These are some of the courses that will push you beyond your limit to research and explore new technologies and tools, and to come up with your own ideas and methods for solving problems.”

“From these courses, I acquired the knowledge and skills I needed to lead the implementation of the ALDS entity resolution engine for ADE and to developed other tools like the ADE-DPS and the Entropy Calculator. The courses also gave me a head start on working in the Big Data environment and the technologies I later came to use at Acxiom. I have always been solving data management data integration issues, and I find most of the solutions I develop are based on what I learned in the MSIQ program. Over my career, the education I received at UA Little Rock has helped me stay one step ahead in solving complex data-related issues and has really boosted my professional career.”

“I would like to thank all of the many great instructors who guided me in the courses I took in the program. I would especially like to thank Dr. Talburt for being available all the time as my advisor and for helping me out whenever I came across any difficult questions during my master’s degree studies. Also, a special thanks to Dean Abhijit Bhattacharyya who helped me from the beginning of my program taking time for even with the tiniest issues like reviewing my resume and discussing career opportunities.”

“Also while pursing my MSIQ, I had many amazing classmates without whom I could not have learned many of the things I know today. Working on projects or just learning something new as part of our studies could not have been more enjoyable. I would especially like to thank my amazing classmates and good friends Utsav Chatterjee, Sharath Kumar Posa, and Syed Ameenuddin.”

“I would like to close by encouraging the students currently in the program to go the extra mile to research a new technology, to solve an extra problem, or volunteer to help on class project. It does not always have to be just the standard answer. Instead, try applying something new like an open source technology being used in the industry for a tech related problem. In this way, you will not only understand current trends in the field of data and technology and the kinds of tools being used, but it will also help you get an idea of you want to do or learn after you are graduated.”

Established in 2006 by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT) in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Chief Data Officer and Information Quality Program, the UALR Information Quality Graduate Program is dedicated to developing and delivering state of the art curriculum in information quality education, contributing new ideas to the body of information quality knowledge, and establishing information quality partnerships with the community, government, and industry.  The UA Little Rock Information Quality Graduate Program is an international program matriculating students from all over the world at its Little Rock campus and in its eLearning Online Campus including students resident in Asia, Europe, and Africa. The UALR Master of Science in Information Quality program was ranked in 2017 by College Choice as one of 35 Best Online Master’s Degrees in Information Technology. In addition to the Master of Science in Information Quality, the program also offers a Graduate Certificate in Information Quality and an Information Quality Emphasis Track in the Computer and Information Sciences PhD program.

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