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Google Software Engineer Grew Up on a Rural China Farm

Maharishi University of Management offers Holistic Graduate Education for Today's Computer Professionals

MUM Graduate Student is an Inspiration!

Ling Sun (“Susie”) has a wonderful story to tell. She was born on a small farm in rural China. Today, she is a Google software engineer in New York City. How did she do it?

Early life in China

Girls in Ling’s community in Hunan Province, central China, never go to high school, and are expected to help farm and then have their own families. In fact, she had to leave school at age 13 to work in the family’s fields to help with family financial needs.

But farm work was hard and made Ling unhappy, so she kept asking her father, and he finally agreed to let her return to school. Among her 11 village friends, Ling Sun was the only one to finish high school.

But this education didn’t allow her to enter college, so she became a factory worker in Shenzhen. The work routine was boring, so she quit the factory after a few months and became a student in a computer training program, hoping this would give her the skills for a more professional life.

To pay for the training to become an entry-level software engineer, she worked three part-time jobs and lived on three credit cards.

Ling Sun with family in rural China
Ling Sun with family members in rural Hunan Province village.

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First professional job

In September 2011, Ling got her first software engineering job developing an online payroll system in Shenzhen. This was great for a while, but she still wanted to feel more accomplished in a big city where others had more advanced knowledge and credentials.

In a recent interview, Ling told the South China Morning Post that her basic motivation has always been to “Just keep learning new things step-by-step, day-by-day.” So, while continuing the job, she studied English and enrolled in a distance education degree program with Shenzhen University. Being athletic with lots of energy, she also began playing ultimate frisbee as a way to get exercise and learn English from others with more worldly international experience.

A great opportunity in America

The exposure to people with international backgrounds stimulated Ling with the desire to see more of the world. While viewing a Chinese job-hunting website in 2016, she noticed an ad for a U.S. computer science master’s degree program that looked perfect to her: low initial cost, with the ability to get a paid professional internship as part of an accredited academic degree program. During the internship in a U.S. company studies would continue via distance education.

Ling applied and was accepted into our Computer Professionals Master’s Program at Maharishi University of Management, located about 230 miles southwest of Chicago. After nine months studying on campus, including the valuable Career Strategies Workshop and numerous interviews, Sun was offered a position as a Software Engineer with a Google vendor, EPAM Systems.

Formal group photo of August 2018 ComPro entry.
Here’s Ling Sun after arriving at MUM in October 2017.

Paid professional internship at Google

As a contract software engineer at Google’s Manhattan headquarters, Ling feels fortunate to have colleagues from top American universities—some with Ph.D. degrees. “But none of them treat me like I don’t deserve all of this,”she said in a recent interview with the South China Morning Post. “That is the thing I like about America: they value what you are able to do more than where you come from.”

MUM experience

Regarding the time spent at MUM, she appreciates the special academic environment, the diversity of the student and faculty population, and the many friends made here. She adds, “I liked every moment spent (at MUM) in Fairfield.”

Her adviser, Professor Mei Li, says,”Susie was always very positive and enthusiastic about all her activities. She was a good student, a friend to everyone, and exceptionally talented in many areas, including sports.”

Ling Sun with ultimate frisbee friend.
Ling Sun with ultimate frisbee friend.

Future plans

After completing her master’s degree in December 2019, Ling hopes her parents will come to visit America and see her graduate on our campus. This would be the first time for her mother to leave their hometown in China!

Ling Sun’s next professional goal is to become an in-house Google software engineer. She says that, “It won’t be easy, but your life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

To read more about Ling Sun’s remarkable life, please read this article in the South China Morning Post.

Data Science MS specialization named the top master’s program of its kind in Iowa, 2018

The MS in Computer Science-Data Science specialization at Maharishi University of Management recently received the unique distinction of being named the best master’s program of its kind in Iowa.

In its first annual review of all 290 accredited schools in the U.S. offering similar grad degrees, DataScienceGraduatePrograms.com found MUM to be among the very best, giving us the #1 spot for Iowa on its list of Top Data Science Graduate Programs for 2018.

Selection Criteria
To come up with these recommendations, reviewers sifted through a list of 290 data science master’s and graduate certificate programs by hand.

As much as possible, they looked for programs that included multiple required courses covering core subjects such as:

Inferential and Descriptive Statistics
Linear and Logistic Regression
Time Series and Forecasting
Probability Theory
Stochastic Analysis
Statistical Modeling
Multidisciplinary Approaches

A multi-disciplinary program including courses and instructors from computer science and applied mathematics or statistics departments ranked more highly than single department programs.

Because data science blends together essential elements from at least those fields (and often from others, including biostatistics, which draws on heath and medical education) they judged that programs built by professors from both houses were more likely to cover all the bases.

Database and Data Theory Education

The secret sauce that makes data science, data science, is the use of automated data processing elements in statistical analysis. So they searched for programs that included an education in data structures and database theory.

Hands-on work with relational and non-relational data stores were a big plus, in their view, to build on that theoretical education. Dedicated data modeling courses and capstone projects that required genuine database creation or manipulation were also excellent signs of a useful education.

Coding Courses With Teeth

The other aspect of data processing is coding. Data scientists apply their analytical training to information stored in data structures through expressions and algorithms crafted in programming languages heavily used in the profession, like R, Python and Java.

They selected programs that included genuine, hands-on programming work. Although most data science programs require some coding experience as a condition of entry, they looked for those gems that also continued the education in the more specialized aspects of languages and coding specific to data science.

This also extended to coverage of the latest techniques used in data analysis. Data mining, machine learning, and advanced visualization were important courses they looked for.

Instructors With The Right Stuff

Data science is a new field and it’s one that is largely being defined in practice rather than theory. That means that the big players are active in government, industry, and academia alike. On-the-ground experience working with the systems that are collecting, processing, and analyzing big data is invaluable when it comes to training others how to do the work.

So reviewers looked for programs that included faculty with current or recent experience in real-world projects outside academia, where the practical considerations of employers and users come into play. Adjunct professors with day jobs working with big data were a big plus.

Other Factors

Since data science is so new, they had to look at some proxy elements to judge programs. They always like to consider reputation in the industry, and in many cases they had to look at the parent department or college generally instead of the individual program. However, they did try to account for graduate placement as an indicator of reputation and preparation.

If the school had a dedicated data lab where professors and students partnered with outside businesses and agencies, they also counted that highly.

To a much lesser extent, website and the availability of information played a factor. Data science draws people who like data and have an interest in technology. It’s 2018, and if an academic department dealing in a computational science puts together a website that looks like a 12-year-old built it in 2001, or can’t provide easy online access to course descriptions and offerings, it’s time to run the other way.

The Very Best Data Science Grad Programs by State

Iowa

Maharishi University of Management
Although the Maharishi program is focused first on a traditional computer science education, with all the emphasis on core networking and programming skills that entails, it’s also a unique world center for the integration of traditional self-development with this most modern area of technical study. The inclusion of proven meditation techniques here only reinforces how serious this program is about preparing students for real-world work in data science. The optional 8-month internship for full credit provides genuine on-the-job experience, building your resume and putting you into direct contact with real data scientists doing real work, all before you graduate.

The base program specializes in training on software systems and development and the data science option piggybacks on this strength with concrete training in hot data analysis technologies like R, Hadoop, Spark, Flume, and HBase. Overviews of other NoSQL approaches and cloud-based tools like AWS and Cloudera are also taught. Finally, you’ll work with IBM’s SPSS modeler application, diving into text analytics and data mining to learn predictive modeling skills.

Learn more.

New: Computer Professionals Program Website

After nearly a year in development, our new responsive website for the Computer Professionals ProgramSM is ready.

Please click on the images shown below to experience the unique excitement and attraction that draws more than 300 students per year from every continent and every cultural background to our Computer Science MS program.

We are especially proud of the website videos, which give an inviting taste of student life at MUM, and will inspire you to apply to our “ComProSM” degree program!

See for yourself why campus visitors, students, and graduates consider MUM their home-away-from-home!

Some pages on our new website:

Unique Payment Plan for Internationals

Unique, affordable payment plan for international students

 

Low Entry Fee with Paid Internships for Internationals

Low initial payment with paid internships in U.S. companies

 

Our Students Come from Around the World

Read testimonials and watch video comments from students and graduates worldwide.

 

You Will Experience Personal & Career Growth

ComPro students practicing Transcendental Meditation® technique

 

Students Have Held Internships in Fortune 500 Companies

ComPro students do paid internships in U.S. companies

 

Learn Advanced Computer Science from Top Faculty

ComPro students gain advanced knowledge in software development

 

New Data Science Specialization: Big Data Analytics & Machine Learning

Our new Data Science track prepares students for careers in the fastest growing area of computer science

 

You Will Enjoy Our Vibrant Campus Community

MUM is located in a vibrant campus community not far from Chicago

Visit our new website now.

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