In the year since Matt Mazzarell ’13 graduated from the College of Charleston, he has helped to increase the effectiveness of MRI machines and developed a way to predict the failure of computer hard drives. Not a bad year.
As a data scientist, Fortune 500 companies give Mazzarell ridiculous amounts of data that he analyzes and turns into future predictions.
Q: How would you describe your job?
A: I work for Teradata in the Big Data Practice.
Teradata is the leader in data warehousing and analytic solutions for enterprise-level companies. I use their products to solve difficult problems for our clients that can only be solved by analyzing very large datasets. Very large means terabytes and petabytes of data – billions of records.
We use statistical techniques to make sense of this data. We also use subject matter knowledge from our clients and our own intuition to find things that they never knew were there, like banking fraud and problems with customer experience in websites.
Q: What kind of companies have you worked with?
A: Right now, I’m in Texas working with AT&T. I’ve done a couple of projects with Dell (computers), including predicting when hard drives will fail. A hard drive failure is catastrophic for the user, so we used sensor data to determine indicators and predict what circumstances might result in a failure.
I also did a project for GE Healthcare looking at all their MRI data to determine the likelihood of problems with the machines – like if machines in a certain area are more likely to have a certain problem. Predicting MRI failure could save millions of dollars in repair costs for hospitals around the world, as well as for GE Healthcare.
Q: What is your favorite part about your job?
A: Watching our clients’ faces light up when they discover new insights about their company/customers/process. I love helping them solve those problems that they have been trying to solve for years.
I also really like consulting. I work for different companies all over the U.S. That’s really exciting to me. This weekend, since I’m in Texas, I’m going to extend my trip to catch an NFL game in AT&T Stadium.
Q: How did you get this position?
A: When I was a senior, I reached out to a friend, Ewan Oglethorpe ’12, that I played club lacrosse with at the College. I asked him about his job, and he recommended me for a position with his company, Teradata.
Q: What did you do as a student that helped you to get this job?
A: I had two great internships in the Charleston area at BoomTown and AECOM. Without the internships and experience it wouldn’t have been possible to get this job.
I also got to know my professors really well and Chris Starr helped me to get both internships – having a professor recommend you can be huge for convincing people to take an intern.
Get involved – playing on the club lacrosse team helped me maintain a great work-life balance. I was also a founding father of Beta at the College and had the fortune of meeting a brother in the Charleston area who had sold his tech company to Microsoft for more than $75 million.
Q: How did you get interested in data science?
A: When I was a freshman, it looked like the coolest thing – even five years ago, it was clearly the next big thing.
I like it because it’s not just programming and computer science, it is intuition and human behavior analysis and statistics.
Q: What is your big career goal or dream?
A: To create my own start up company or obtain a leadership position in data science for a great organization.
Q: What advice would you offer current students?
A: Work hard so your professors see you’re learning and will offer opportunities when they come up. Explore the connections that your teachers have within the industry and let them know that you are exploring the possibility of internships. Do your best to return the favor by recommending other grads for jobs that are available within your organization.