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October 9, 2017   Columns Articles | Instructional News | Informatics certificate program gives students competitive…
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Students in Benjamin Manning's informatics class collaborate on a group project. Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski

Informatics certificate program gives students competitive edge

Camie Williams

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By Camie Williams | October 9, 2017
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The job market is competitive, so Nicole Saltos wants to have every advantage when she graduates.

That's why she was intrigued by an email she received about a new certificate program, open to students of any major, that would teach her skills in data mining, data visualization and more.

"I really wanted to learn more," Saltos, a third-year student in the Terry College of Business, said of the undergraduate Informatics Certificate Program, which was launched this fall. "Data is so important in every field, and having the skill set that comes with the informatics certificate is going to be very valuable in solving business problems."

Saltos is currently enrolled in "Informatics 1," a foundational course that is the only required course for the 15 credit-hour certificate. After that, she is free to choose from among 74 courses in fields from humanities to the sciences. As a management information systems major, Saltos said she is most likely to choose marketing analytics courses.

The diverse slate of course options is one of the biggest benefits the certificate program offers, said Kyle Johnsen, an associate professor in the College of Engineering and director of the Georgia Informatics Institutes for Research and Education.

"The certificate provides the student a way of differentiating their chosen program of study so that employers can recognize their focus and abilities in informatics," Johnsen said.

No matter the field, employers seek out graduates who have experience in data analysis or skills such as information security and web and mobile development, he said. In fact, recent data from social media network LinkedIn show that each of the top 10 most sought after career skills are related to informatics.

"The certificate is designed to cater to the student who wants to pursue a career in any field, and one who anticipates growth in the demand for evidence- and data-based decisions in that field and growth in the use of computational infrastructure to make those decisions," Johnsen said.

That description matches Destiny Simms, a first-year computer science major who hopes to work in the gaming industry.

"Data is the foundation of our generation and every single one after us," said Simms, who is enrolled in the foundational course and excited to continue through the Informatics Certificate Program. "Learning how to use data and handle it now puts you at a significant advantage."

For more information about the certificate program, including the list of courses, see gii.uga.edu.

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