Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Mónica Puente Puig, Instructor, Universidad de Navarra, Spain.
Universidad de Navarra is a private university founded in 1952 by Saint Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei, with campuses in Pamplona, San Sebastián, Barcelona, and Madrid. The university’s mission is to seek and transmit the truth, contribute to the academic, cultural and personal training of its students; promote scientific research; offer development opportunities to its teachers and employees; and carry out cultural activities of service to society.
The university has 16 departments, eight research centers, a startup acceleration program, 1,170 teachers, and 12,700 students. The Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (DATAI) offers courses in Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Complex Networks, and Deep Learning.
Mónica Puente Puig, an independent consultant, was invited in 2021 to join the Master’s in Big Data Science program. The program is an elective, attended by students from a range of disciplines who need more knowledge about data science and how to manage data. Her students include engineers, mathematicians, economists, medical professionals, biologists, and physicists, all seeking to grasp the concepts of cloud, machine learning, and big data.
Responding to the challenge, Puente Puig chose the Oracle Academy Cloud Program as the foundation of her Big Data Science class.
Oracle Academy: Setting up a Big Data master’s course must have been a challenge. How did you come to select Oracle Cloud?
Mónica Puente Puig: I have been a 100% Oracle aficionado for 30 years. I worked nine years for Oracle University and almost 20 teaching Oracle technology to companies as a consultant. When the opportunity arose, I touched base with Oracle University colleagues who advised me to contact Oracle Academy, which proposed the cloud curriculum.
When I started the course, I ran into problems installing virtual machines on local laptops, computers without enough memory, or access rights or other issues. On learning that everything I needed existed in the Oracle Academy Cloud Program, it was like WOW! We very quickly became an Oracle Academy Institutional member.
Oracle Academy: Excellent! And what parts of the Cloud Program are you using?
Mónica Puente Puig: My field of expertise is, if you like, the backend of the cloud. I want people to understand how it works so that they can create data science projects. I show them how to configure the physical infrastructure that they will have to manage.
Therefore, my Master’s program in Big Data Science is heavily focused on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure ― how to provision the Oracle Autonomous Database, manage Hadoop or physical clusters, set up Virtual Private Networks, and master the full machine learning lifecycle.
The difference between working with virtual machines and Oracle Cloud has been like night and day. I am super happy with the Oracle Academy Cloud Program. At this year’s graduation ceremony, the end of our first year of the course, many students told me how good it has been to have the Oracle Autonomous Database at their disposition, for simulating ETL and using data in Artificial Intelligence models.
Oracle Academy: And how has it turned out?
Mónica Puente Puig: Being able to use Oracle Cloud has been a fantastic benefit. So many valuable resources are available through the always-free offering. In the past my access to free resources was limited to 30 days and I spent many months cramming myself with knowledge before the time was up.
Oracle Academy: What exercises do you assign students?
Mónica Puente Puig: I teach them to provision Oracle Autonomous Databases, run SQL code inside, and we also work with Oracle Machine Learning for SQL, where you can build, evaluate, deploy forecast models, and score data.
Then I introduce them to Oracle Machine Learning Notebooks, the collaborative user interface. Machine Learning Notebooks are great because students can copy and paste or execute part of the laboratory exercises they are learning with other teachers, such as Python.
They access the Notebooks from inside the Autonomous Database and use them for data analysis, data discovery, data visualization and collaboration. They learn how to run SQL statements, run PL/SQL scripts, and run Python or Markdown commands.
It’s a very collaborative environment. One advantage of populating the Autonomous Database with their data sets is that students can share their forecast with all the others in one place. Sharing the knowledge that one student captured with a particular Machine Learning algorithm is fantastic. There is no need to copy and paste resources in different environments. All you need is an internet connection.
Oracle Academy: And the analytical part of big data?
Mónica Puente Puig: Naturally! I have introduced Oracle Analytics Cloud, a very powerful tool for analytics and a key element of Oracle Cloud. I insist on Oracle Analytics so that they have options.
Oracle Academy: Have you introduced Oracle professional certification?
Mónica Puente Puig: Now that Oracle has created the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Data Science Professional Certification, we are going to encourage all of our students to sit for that exam. That includes people in the economics faculty who also need to understand big data. The master’s degree itself is of course highly valuable, but Oracle certification would simply make them worth more.
Oracle Academy: And presumably career opportunities are strong?
Mónica Puente Puig: That’s right. Even though most of my class are already in jobs there’s lots of scope for career progression. We have many large companies interested in our graduates, ranging from a major bank, to a leading telco.
Also, DATAI’s recently created start-up accelerator has attracted over 50 companies, many of which are also keen to hire our graduates.
Oracle Academy: Good luck to them all. And Mónica, what attracts you most about technology?
Mónica Puente Puig: For me technology should be used for helping people simplify their lives. Technology is helping us to better understand or manage daily tasks. Above all, the value in technology is in improving relationships among human beings. If we can accomplish that, then the world is a better place.
Oracle Academy: And what are your interests outside of teaching?
Mónica Puente Puig: My family comes first! I am a mother of six and a grandmother of four. I started with Oracle Database version six, and when I began to have children my colleagues would joke that each one was a new version!
We are from the coast of Galicia, northwestern Spain, and love the sea. We all sail and spend our holidays on the coast. That’s my main passion outside of teaching.
Thank you, Mónica Puente Puig, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.