First Graduates of Online Master of Applied Statistics Find Skills in High Demand

First Graduates of Online Master of Applied Statistics Find Skills in High Demand statistics, nevin manimala, mathematics, math, linkedin, google plus
First Graduates of Online Master of Applied Statistics Find Skills in High Demand statistics, nevin manimala, mathematics, math, linkedin, google plus

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 24, 2018) — Eric Rannenberg was coming out of a math course on the University of Kentucky campus when he saw a flier that completely changed his academic plan. The flier, promoting the UK College of Arts and Sciences’ online Master of Applied Statistics, led Rannenberg to apply to the program and begin his studies that semester.

“I dropped all of my other classes except one, joined the statistics program three weeks late and worked hard to get caught up,” he said.

This May, two years later, he walked across the stage at Rupp Arena receiving his master’s degree as part of the first cohort of the new Master of Applied Statistics online professional graduate program.

“My job is very statistics heavy, and once I learned more about the online Master of Applied Statistics, I knew it was ideal and exactly what I want to be doing,” Rannenberg said.

A native of Kentucky, Rannenberg joined the Marine Corps Reserve after high school and earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from Eastern Kentucky University. After graduating, he served 10 years as a pilot in the Marines flying the KC-130J aircraft on active duty and deployed twice overseas. In 2009, Rannenberg separated from active service and joined the Maryland Air National Guard as a pilot of the C-27J aircraft. In the midst of flying, he successfully completed his MBA from the University of Maryland University College in 2013. Still active in the Air National Guard, Rannenberg commutes from Versailles, Kentucky, to his full-time job conducting operational test and evaluation of Navy and Marine Corps aircraft in Maryland.

“The Master in Applied Statistics absolutely enhances my skills for my current job – it sets me apart and gives me skills that aren’t common,” Rannenberg said. “I work with a group of people who are all highly skilled and mathematically inclined, but very few have a statistical background.  Statistical literacy will be a skill that will only becomes more in demand with the rising data revolution.”

The applied statistics master’s program was developed in an effort to reach a wide audience including working scientists, traditional and nontraditional students and professionals looking to expand career opportunities through building statistical expertise. The program’s two-year and four-year track options allow students flexibility to complete the coursework at their own pace.

“Our online master’s in applied statistics provides our students with data analytic skills that make them immediately employable upon graduation,” said Arnold Stromberg, chair of the Department of Statistics.

The online program is taught with a combination of live and recorded lectures using the latest lightboard technology and weekly “meet the expert” live Q&A sessions.

“The faculty are outstanding and the technology used in the classes make you feel that, no matter where you are watching the class, you are experiencing it as if you are sitting in a live classroom,” Rannenberg said. “At any time, students can post questions and have them answered within 24 hours. It provided me that same feeling of instructor interaction as going daily to a face-to-face class.”

The Master of Applied Statistics provides students with a variety of skills that include managing “big data” and successfully describing, analyzing and making inferences using current and rapidly evolving statistical methodologies, Stromberg said.

“The demand for well-trained statisticians is strong at local, state, national and international levels,” he said.

According to the “Occupational Outlook Handbook,” published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. demand for statisticians is currently high and growing with a 27 percent projected increase in jobs from 2012 to 2022. Rannenberg began to hear about new professional opportunities as he neared graduation this spring.

“I’ve already gained the attention of recruiters because of this degree. It’s enabling a lot of new opportunities that would not have existed otherwise,” he said. “The investment was completely worth it because it has enriched my ability to do my current job, and I am now able to extract information from the data that had never been noticed before.“

Before completing the applied statistics master’s program, Rannenberg looked at the job requirements for statistics and data science positions at various companies and felt that he was not competitive. “Now I have a robust resume that includes examples of contemporary statistical methods and a large portfolio of data visualization techniques using two programming languages,” he said. “It’s not only experience with academic data sets, the instructors include a broad palette of real-world data.”

Looking back at his past two years of study, Rannenberg feels strongly in the benefit of his investment in the program.

“The breadth of experience ranges from typical to complex analysis.  Students learn how to distill information and articulate the findings to be easily understood by a broad audience.  The degree gave me immediate and valuable skillsets, as well as the confidence to know the types of analysis required to solve complex problems,” he said. “This is a program where you can come out and have immediate response from industry looking to hire people with applied statistical knowledge.”

Minnesota Passes Wisconsin In Total Jobs, US Bureau of Labor Statistics Reports

Minnesota Passes Wisconsin In Total Jobs, US Bureau of Labor Statistics Reports statistics, nevin manimala, mathematics, math, linkedin, google plus

Minnesota had more jobs than Wisconsin in 2017, marking the first time in recent history that it has passed its Midwest neighbor.

Data released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed Minnesota nudged ahead of Wisconsin by 3,096 total jobs.

That’s hardly a huge edge given the size of their overall workforces, which total almost 2.9 million workers in each state.

But the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show Wisconsin still has almost 219,000 more residents than Minnesota, and just a decade ago, it had nearly 98,000 more jobs.

Minnesota Passes Wisconsin In Total Jobs, US Bureau of Labor Statistics Reports statistics, nevin manimala, mathematics, math, linkedin, google plus

Wednesday’s numbers come from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which economists regard as the “gold standard” of job metrics. More detailed numbers that break down public versus private sector jobs won’t be available for another couple weeks.

University of Michigan Labor Economist Donald Grimes said what stuck out to him was that Minnesota had added more jobs than Wisconsin every year since 2010.

“The fact that it’s every year is somewhat remarkable,” Grimes said.

The numbers show that in 2017, Wisconsin added a total of 28,696 jobs. That translated to a growth rate of about 1 percent, which ranked 27th in the nation.

Minnesota, by contrast, added 35,925 jobs in 2017 for a growth rate of 1.3 percent, which ranked 18th.

From 2011 through 2017, Wisconsin added a total of 202,554 jobs, which ranked 34th in the nation. Minnesota added 292,976, which ranked 19th.

The overall numbers come at a time when another job metric — the unemployment rate — dropped to 2.8 percent in Wisconsin according to preliminary figures. That’s a record low.

“To get an unemployment rate that low is great,” Grimes said. “But that means that you’re not going to be able to increase employment any more by reducing that much further.”

Minnesota’s preliminary unemployment rate for April was 3.2 percent. Both states are lower than the national rate of 3.9 percent.

But other figures give more of a clue as to why Minnesota passed Wisconsin.

Minnesota’s labor force participation rate — the percentage of the overall population that is part of the workforce — is 70.5 percent, which is slightly higher than Wisconsin’s 68.9 percent.

In addition, job growth in Minnesota’s largest city far surpassed job growth in Wisconsin’s.

Hennepin County, Minnesota, home to Minneapolis-St. Paul, added 110,520 jobs from 2011 through 2017. By contrast, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin added just 17,680 over that same period.

“You need to focus on why Milwaukee is doing so much worse than Minneapolis-St. Paul and how you can be more like Minneapolis-St. Paul,” Grimes said.

Full QCEW data covering all of 2017 will be released in June. That will show how Wisconsin’s private sector economy compared to other states, and break down specific sectors, like manufacturing.

WisContext associate editor Scott Gordon contributed data visualization for this story.

FBI Used Fake Statistics to Sell Its Need for Encryption Backdoors

FBI Used Fake Statistics to Sell Its Need for Encryption Backdoors statistics, nevin manimala, mathematics, math, linkedin, google plus

Photo: Getty

For years, the FBI has claimed it needs a backdoor for encrypted devices because too much evidence is being lost in our brave new world. At the end of 2017, law enforcement began a new push, claiming there were 7,800 devices waiting to be cracked. Now it says there was a programming error and that number was totally off the mark.

The Washington Post first broke the story on Tuesday, and the FBI has confirmed its error, saying that an internal audit is planned to make a new assessment of the numbers. From the Post:

The FBI first became aware of the miscount about a month ago and still does not have an accurate count of how many encrypted phones they received as part of criminal investigations last year, officials said. Last week, one internal estimate put the correct number of locked phones at 1,200, though officials expect that number to change as they launch a new audit, which could take weeks to complete, according to people familiar with the work.

“The FBI’s initial assessment is that programming errors resulted in significant over-counting of mobile devices reported,’’ the FBI said in a statement Tuesday. The bureau said the problem stemmed from the use of three distinct databases that led to repeated counting of phones. Tests of the methodology conducted in April 2016 failed to detect the flaw, according to people familiar with the work.

The recent fight for a private governmental gateway into encrypted devices began in earnest back in 2016 under former FBI Director James Comey and the Obama administration. The FBI made a public case against Apple’s refusal to build in a backdoor on the iPhone in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting and the subsequent difficulty of accessing one of the shooter’s devices. At the time, Apple CEO Tim Cook called a master key for his company’s encryption “the software equivalent of cancer.” The FBI subsequently found another way to break into the device, essentially nullifying its argument.

Since then the FBI has taken to calling cases in which it believes there’s important evidence on an inaccessible device, “Going Dark.” In his typically florid style, Comey wrote in his recent book that Silicon Valley execs “don’t see the darkness the FBI sees.” And since Comey’s firing, the new director, Christopher Wray, has ramped up the complaints. In January, he told the House Judiciary Committee, “In fiscal year 2017, the FBI was unable to access the content of approximately 7,800 mobile devices using appropriate and available technical tools, even though there was legal authority to do so.” He’s repeatedly parroted the statistic, which held even scarier significance because, in 2016, the agency claimed that only 880 devices were uncrackable. The implication was clear, this problem is becoming an epidemic.

The FBI’s admission that it’s really not sure how many devices are giving it trouble comes at an interesting time. Just last week, the Electronic Freedom Foundation, filed a FOIA request regarding numerous aspects of the FBI’s claims. The dramatic spike in problematic devices raised red flags, but the EFF also wants to know, “when and how the FBI discovered that some outside entity was capable of hacking the San Bernardino iPhone, and what the FBI was telling Congress about its capabilities to hack into cellphones.”


To put it simply, encryption experts overwhelmingly agree that there’s no such thing as a “safe backdoor.” Our devices aren’t secure enough as it is—a point that is clearly demonstrated by the GrayKey and Cellebrite services that the FBI already uses to access iPhones. Hardcoding a backdoor makes it virtually impossible to close in the inevitable event that hackers find the opening. And they always find the opening.

The FBI wants us to entrust it with the keys to our devices, while it makes “programming errors” performing a simple count of how many devices it has in its inventory. It wants to make a case that technology has changed so much that law enforcement is being locked out, but it has far more investigative tools at its disposal than ever. We’re surveilled from every direction, and we leave digital trails everywhere. The agency is simply being lazy and disingenuous.

[Washington Post]