Analytics India Magazine Review: UpGrad & BITS Pilani Big Data Program

This article is a review by Analytics India Magazine of UpGrad Big Data Engineering Program in association with BITS Pilani.

Thinking about a career in Big Data but not sure where to start?

Big Data is a vast field with many tools & technologies (and new ones emerging every day). It can be overwhelming for anyone to decide where to begin learning. In order to provide professionals with a structured learning path to Big Data, BITS Pilani, ranked in the top 5 technical universities in the country, has partnered with UpGrad to launch India’s first Post-Graduate Program in Big Data Engineering.

Co-founded by entrepreneur and media stalwart Ronnie Screwvala and three education experts – Mayank Kumar, Phalgun Kompalli and Ravijot Chugh – UpGrad is an online education venture offering rigorous, industry-relevant programs for working professionals to upskill themselves in order to remain relevant. This is BITS Pilani’s first ever external partnership to create an online program.

Combining experienced faculty from BITS Pilani and several Big Data industry veterans (from companies like IBM, Cognizant, Saavn, AWS, American Express), this PG program is highly industry-oriented combining academic concepts and hands-on Industry applications.

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Why Big Data Engineering?

While there are many courses teaching Data Science/Analytics in the country, there are hardly any comprehensive programs addressing Big Data Engineering. While Big Data Engineering and Analytics are interdependent fields, they require distinct skill sets. Big Data Engineers are expert developers who can design, build and deploy complex systems and data lakes that can acquire, store and process Big Data. These solutions make relevant data available to important consumer/internet applications and end-users.

Based on a NASSCOM report, the big data industry is growing at 25% CAGR, leading to an equivalent growth in jobs for Big Data professionals – thereby creating hundreds of thousands of high-paying job opportunities in India and abroad. According to a recent LinkedIn report, Big Data Developers/Engineers are among the top-ranked emerging jobs in the Tech-Industry.

While there are numerous opportunities for Big Data Engineers, companies find it difficult to find top talent. Sourabh Mukherjee, Vice-President of Accenture Innovation Centre for Data says, “There is a dearth of quality talent in the big data industry. Educational programs like these will go a long way in building talent”.

What are the unique features of this program?

  • Online 11-month program (including 6-week Capstone Project) for working professionals
  • Post-Graduate Certificate (with GPA) from BITS Pilani and Lifetime BITS Alumni Status
  • Comprehensive, Industry-relevant curriculum designed by BITS & Industry Experts
  • 130-160 hours of 5 hands-on, industry-relevant projects across different domains like Consumer Internet, Finance etc.
  • Cloud Lab (on AWS) for projects, case-studies and assignments
  • Interactive learning experience through live online lectures, teaching assistants and student mentors
  • Career Support services like Industry mentorship, mock-interviews, job connects
  • 3 Offline Base Camps in top cities – for interactions with peers, faculty and industry leaders
  • Current students from 144 companies including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, TCS, Infosys, Cognizant etc.
  • Flexible payment options including 0% Interest EMI

Priced at Rs 2,25,000/- (with taxes), the program offers a holistic education to all those wishing to transition to Big Data. One of the current students of the program Radhakrishnan Rajagopalan, Ex Senior Vice President of Cognizant Analytics & Information Management Business says – “I decided to experience Big Data Engineering first hand with an institution that brings that rigour of formal education and helps build expertise and advanced skills at the same time. My evaluation of programs and curriculums that offer this kind of education brought me to UpGrad and BITS. I liked the curriculum, approach, pedigree of professors and the institution”.

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Some of the unique program features are detailed below:

1) Industry Relevant and Comprehensive Curriculum

The course curriculum has been designed by BITS Pilani faculty and seasoned Big Data industry leaders (from American Express, JP Morgan, Accenture, Latent View Analytics, IBM etc) to align with expectations and requirements of the industry. According to Prof. Nayan Khare, BITS Pilani, “This program presents a unique opportunity to create a long-term career in one of the fastest growing industries in the country”. Above image is the sample certificate that will be provided to all students upon successful completion of the course.

A high-level understanding of programming is not a prerequisite. In fact, the program offers free preparatory sessions in programming and databases so non-coders can come up-to-speed with JAVA, SQL, Data Structures and Design & Analysis of Algorithms. The program has 5 courses and a Capstone Project. Through course projects and assignments, students work on industry-relevant problems, preparing them for Big Data jobs. The curriculum covers:

  • Foundations of Big Data systems and delves deeper into data structures and algorithms and introduces learners to topics such as Data Abstraction, Linear and Non-linear data structure and algorithm design using MapReduce.
  • Big Data Platforms and an in-depth understanding of tools and technologies such as Hadoop, HBase, Apache Pig, Apache Spark, Amazon S3 & Dynamo DB.
  • In ETL & Batch Processing, students learn which tool to use to ingest data and in what context. Tools covered are HBase, Amazon EMR, Apache Flume, Apache Hive and Sqoop.
  • Concepts of Processing Real-time & Streaming Data and mastering the tools and technologies used in Big Data Analytics (Apache Flume, Spark and Storm)
  • Machine Learning and building visualizations using Spark and Scala

Given the rapid evolution of technologies, AIM believes that teaching core foundation is a huge plus point since this prepares students to easily imbibe future technologies and skills to continue advancing in their careers. In addition, compared to focusing on a single Big Data tool or technology, the program provides a comprehensive coverage of the entire Big Data Landscape – which can be a big differentiator for professionals seeking to build their career in the field.

2) 5 High Impact Real-Life Industry Projects

A key proposition of the program is the 5 real-industry sponsored Big Data projects (led by experts from different domains across companies like Saavn, Edelweiss etc) that give learners the much-needed experience in tackling frontline Big Data problems across sectors. Some of the projects across industry domains are:

  • Music Streaming: Students will analyze troves of music streaming data from Saavn to create top-ranking playlists that users like.
  • Healthcare: Big Data is transforming Healthcare worldwide. In this project, students will build a big data solution analyzing patient data to predict disease likelihood/occurrence.
  • Financial Services: Stock Market traders rely on intelligence from massive amounts of data to make real-time trading decisions. In this project, students will build a big data solution for predicting real-time stock price movements.
  • Music Recommendation Engine (Capstone Project with Saavn): Saavn uses multiple personalization layers to engage with its 20 million+ active users. In capstone project, students will build a recommendation engine that processes millions of data points to generate customized song/artist recommendations.

In addition, the program is officially empanelled with AWS’ Educate Program. Under this engagement, each student enrolling in the program will get AWS Cloud credits for completing their assignments and projects.

AIM recommends that students leverage this partnership with leading Big Data companies and experts to build a job-ready portfolio of projects/case-studies they have worked on through this course to highlight their learning.

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3) Career Support

This program provides career support for each step of the process, unlike any other programs we have seen:

  • Feedback on resume and LinkedIn profile to help students kickstart the process
  • 1:1 Industry mentors and consultative calls to help students understand where they could head in their careers
  • Job interviews and opportunities through UpGrad’s network of 100+ companies
  • Mock interviews and examinations to prepare students for opportunities

This program takes career support to another level by ensuring students are handheld through the entire process. AIM thinks that this will be of great benefit, especially for younger professionals.

4) Online Learning like Never Before

UpGrad organizes Basecamps 3 times during the course of the program, across cities. Above image is from one of such UpGrad Basecamp recently held in Mumbai. These offline meetups provide career-related sessions, discussions with faculty/industry experts on the latest trends, workshops, hackathons, and a host of interesting activities to provide a more well-rounded experience to students. Besides this, regular interactions with industry experts are facilitated through live sessions, events and webinars.  These meetups/ sessions serve as a valuable opportunity for students to network with like-minded individuals, peers, professors and industry leaders.

In addition, the program provides extensive academic and non-academic support throughout the program. To ensure students’ doubts are immediately and satisfactorily addressed, each student will get a dedicated student mentor throughout his learning journey. Regular online live sessions, moderated discussion forum and teaching assistant support is regularly provided for doubt resolution.

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Analytics India Magazine Last Word

BITS Pilani’s PG program in Big Data Engineering, in partnership with UpGrad, is a unique offering in the Big Data Engineering field. It is a one-stop solution for professionals looking to upskill in Big Data. It caters to IT & Technology and other working professionals who are Big Data enthusiasts and is not restrictive in nature (non-coders can also pick up coding through pre-course content). The first batch of students come from varied profiles such as software engineers, team leads, project managers and consultants. Since the first batch is underway, placement results remain to be seen.

Short-term online courses on Big Data barely cover all technical aspects of skills most sought-after by potential employers. Meanwhile, there are no standard, industry recognizable certifications that give one an extra edge over the talent pool.

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This 11-month online program packs a rigorous education for aspirants wishing to build a career in big data along with relevant practical experience. So, if you are looking to step up the ladder, then this is the right choice for you.

Applications for the March 2018 cohort are open!

Note: BITS Pilani has the final authority on projects and curriculum- it is subject to change basis evolving requirements.

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