The UK’s Liverpool John Moore University recently unveiled plans for Center for Doctoral Training in the relatively new field of “data intensive science.” This can easily be viewed as another in a long line of examples illustrating the integration of information technology training into other fields.
In this particular case, we are looking at the overlap between fields of academic study and the extracurricular pursuit of information technology training. But the broader phenomenon also relates to the possibility of an academic background in information technology training easing a person’s transition into another field where big data and computer-aided analysis is increasingly important.
The LJMU press release explains that the new doctoral center will assist in “developing new techniques and algorithms to meet the challenge of large and complex datasets in the 21st century,” as well as applying those techniques and algorithms to a wide range of academic problems. The article specifically names “astrophysics, accelerator science, nuclear or particle physics research,” but then also refers to the potential for applying the work of the center to industries and organizations in the private and public sectors.
It may be tempting to assume that persons with a solid grasp of the aforementioned scientific fields would also be quick to grasp the science and procedures behind information technology training. But there’s really nothing to back up that assumption, and in fact the opposite may often be true. Every field has its own unique demands, which can sap a person’s ability to focus in on other, tangentially related skills.
But in the case of information technology training, the relevant skills are moving out of the tangents and into the center of fields that would have once been considered unrelated. This does not, however, make the adoption of those skills notably easier for people who aren’t used to the integrated nature of their chosen fields. As such, it takes considerable effort to find a path to the skillsets that will allow a person to fully leverage modern resources for the analysis of data in increasingly sophisticated fields.
Institutions like the LJMU Center for Doctoral Training can be expected to make this sort of development more attainable for people who have established professions in roles not directly related to IT. But while these sorts of resources may be growing at a considerable rate, there are presently rather few and far between. Consequently, people without access to these programs must still rely upon alternative providers of information technology training or other forms of professional development.
The day may come when information technology training is a prerequisite for completion of a course of study in every scientific field and every field of study that might have to deal with the analysis of big data. But until that day, it will be the responsibility of each individual student or job seeker to pursue these skillsets either through their institutions or outside of them, so as to keep pace with the changes that are rapidly overtaking almost every professional field.