New AIM school for techpreneurs gets early citation
Ayunan Gunting (The Philippine Star) - October 7, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s first data science graduate degree program is ranked as one of the best in Southeast Asia. 

The Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) is one of the three specializations offered under the Aboitiz School of Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (ASITE) at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).   

ASITE is AIM’s response to the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, said Jikyeong Kang, president and dean of AIM. This era is exemplified by evolving technologies that integrate the physical, digital and biological worlds. These have an influence on economies, governments, communities and individuals. In fact, the digital world brings about disruptions which can be either positive or negative. 

Hence, ASITE trains future-ready leaders to be within the control of these changes by giving them the skills to leverage advanced technology as well as management skills and business practices so that they could make profound changes in society. 

In 2017, AIM lauched the School of Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship to develop entrepreneurs, innovators and data scientists who can make an impact by using technology as a clout to propel innovation across their endeavors. In 2019, with a $10 million endowment from the Aboitiz Foundation, the school was named the Aboitiz School of Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship.

“We want to promote Philippine businesses that are driven by innovation and data science. Without a strong local catalyst, the bright people will tend to go abroad and create businesses there. We want them to start their businesses locally and expand abroad,” said Luis Miguel Aboitiz, senior vice-president of AboitizPower.

?“An educated and experienced local workforce that builds local businesses can  benefit everyone in Philippine society,” he said.

Aboitiz said that ASITE’s mission is to make the school the learning hub in Asia. “Most of the cases are Asian in context with localized data,” he said.

The program’s main features are real-world sandboxing, a term for software management strategy, and learning through experience.

Aboitiz said that while other business schools may offer Master in Entrepreneurship (ME) and Master of Science and Innovation in Business (MSIB), ASITE is unique for offering the Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS).

Christopher Monterola, head of ASITE, said that the MSDS is one of Asia’s first graduate degree programs. The 14-month course aims to produce data scientists who are experts in technology and business management.

“Graduates are equipped with both the technical and business expertise to mine, refines, analyze, and interpret data – the most valuable commodity of the 21st century. More importantly, MSDS students are trained to provide data-driven solutions and generate practical insights that can transform organizations,” said Erika Legara, Acadamic Program director of the MSDS.

Their capstone or culminating project is to work on real business cases provided by partner organizations. 

Then there’s the 18-month part-time entrepreneurship graduate program that caters to owners of businesses who want to refine their leadership skills. They apply classroom theory to their businesses in making them more effective in creating a long-term and sustainable business growth.  They learn to be more methodical in their operations, motivate their workforce to be more efficient and execute realistic goals for growth.

The MSIB for innovators is a 15-month part-time program that integrates science, technology, engineering, agriculture/architecture/arts, and mathematics/medicine (STEAM).  These professionals learn how to manage and design innovations for start-ups and companies. 

Luisa Delayco, Academic Program director of the MSIB, explained that MISB’s interdisciplinary approach gives the students the skills to create new products and services that not only generate profit but also improve lives of the people and the environment.

“Graduates are expected to anticipate trends, inspire ideas, model businesses, start ventures, and create solutions and products designed to address and solve prevalent and emerging issues,” Delayco said.

The students work closely with AIM’s first corporate laboratory, the Analytics, Computing and Complex Systems Lab (ACCeSs@AIM).  It is led by a team of data scientists, engineers and economists who are experts in advanced computing as well as business subjects.

“ACCeSs@AIM has demonstrated capability in solving a wide range of use cases that require advanced analytics as applied to finance, human resources, process automation, logistics and supply chain, energy demand, and fast-moving consumer goods,” Monterola said.

The students also have access to one of ASEAN’s fastest and most powerful supercomputer, which is tailor made for AI-related computations and donated by Stan Shih, the founder of Acer. The supercomputer is designed to perform parallel computation and is capable of crunching huge data sets a thousand times faster than high-end laptops.

?Barely two years since its inception, ASITE has gained the support of many institutions, such as the World Health Organization, Department of Health, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the local government of Cauayan, Security Bank Corp., SM Investments Corp, United Health Group,  Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., Globe, Ayala Corp, Palafox Associates, Tektonik, Aboitiz Group, to name a few.

In addition, various companies have sponsored the education of future data scientists and funded capstone projects in the different programs.

Graduates of the entrepreneur program have established many successful brands, such as Potato Corner, Mary Grace, Great Image, Beach Hut, Carmen’s Best, St. Peter, Candy Corner, Bizu, Time Depot, Mr. Quickie and Marca Piña, said Titos Ortigas, Academic Program director of the ME.

Monterola said that 70 percent of the graduates of Innovation and Business program have received awards in local and international competitions.

In less than a year of its launch, the Data Science course was already ranked third in the Eduniversal’s Business Analytics Program – a rating of business schools – for the Far East, Legara said.                       

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