Over the years Yandex has launched several education initiatives ranging from learning platforms to high school and master’s level courses. 2017 marks the 10-year anniversary of one of our most impactful educational initiatives, the Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA), a free Master's-level program in Computer Science and Data Analysis. In Russia, Yandex is privileged to have access to some of the most talented math and science minds in the world but 10 years ago, Yandex co-founders Arkady Volozh and Ilya Segalovich realized there was a real need to foster these talents and offer students a program for advanced data science.
“Together with well-known pattern recognition specialist, Ilya Muchnik, our co-founders considered the need beyond programmers, to programmers with advanced knowledge of the most modern machine learning practices. There was a serious demand for people to lead Yandex and the entire industry down a new path,” says Yandex Director of Human Resources and Director of Computer Science Department at YSDA, Lena Bunina. “And it was clear that we needed to undertake this ourselves.”
Since 2007, the YSDA has been offering Russian students two vigorous years of training from top experts in the most advanced data science topics. Students leave with a profound understanding of theoretical foundations and hands-on experience in applications such as computer vision and machine translation. “At YSDA, we focus less on theories and more on developing well-rounded students,” says Bunina. “It’s important for students to work in labs, solve problems and receive practical experience.” YSDA students have a unique opportunity to put their data processing and research skills to use as part of YSDA’s collaboration with the LHCb experiment at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
YSDA students also have internship opportunities at Yandex that allow them to further expand their training. Interns have the opportunity to work side-by-side with Yandex data scientists helping to deliver our users exceptional customer experiences.
Initially, the school started in Moscow instructing a class of 80 students in the department of Data Analysis. Our academic reputation, coupled with the growing demand for data scientists in today’s AI-centric world,, have created a huge demand for YSDA courses. Last year we received over 4,000 applications from top universities, welcoming 211 students who passed our rigorous entrance exams.
Today, the program has campus branches in Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Minsk, plus online offerings in both English and Russian on Coursera and partnerships with some of Russia's leading research institutions and universities. The Yandex School of Data Analysis offers the Department of Data Analysis and the Department of Computer Science, and with a specialization in Big Data.
At the YSDA, it’s our mission to prepare students to succeed far beyond the walls of our classrooms. “YSDA’s unique blend of science and practice prepares graduates for a wide range of professional options in science, research, product development, analytics and more,” says Misha Levin, Chief Data Scientist at Yandex.Market and YSDA lecturer.
In 2009, we graduated our first 36 students and this past year proudly graduated 123 students. After ten years, over 600 YSDA graduates are changing the way technology impacts our lives. One of them is Ruslan Mavlyutov, a 2011 YSDA graduate who now works as a Machine Learning Engineer at Apple. “YSDA elevated my machine learning career and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to study there,” says Mavlyutov. “My peers and I had the unique opportunity to be early ML ‘adopters’ at YSDA enabling us to start and lead ML endeavours at Yandex and other tech giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple.”
“YSDA has created a network of bright minds that pumps ideas across countries, industries and companies. In almost every well-known IT company I can find someone who has studied at the YSDA." Mavlyutov adds, "Those are the people whom you can trust and rely on their expertise.”
We’re excited to be at the forefront educating the next generation of data scientists over the next 10 years. Thank you to all of past and present students and instructors of the Yandex School of Data Analysis!