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Student story

Yunxing (James) Ding

20 July 2023

"I want to be a sophisticated specialist in the field of machine learning and deep learning..."


Master of Applied Data Science

Senior Data Engineer, Contact Energy Ltd

James kick-started his career as a Data Scientist with a Master of Applied Data Science at UC. After working for the Bank of China, James was looking for a challenge, and his passion for technology inspired him to pursue higher education in another field.

“Nowadays, data science is expanding into the field of artificial intelligence with the rapid development of the “deep learning” skills. There are some “cool” applications of deep learning in data science, such as the Google self-driving car, AlphaGo and the facial recognition of iPhone X,” he says.

The highly successful graduate first started his career with Sagitto Ltd, a small company of data scientists and software developers, shortly before finishing his master’s. James later worked for Air New Zealand, and now as a Senior Data Engineer for Contact Energy.

“I want to be a sophisticated specialist in the field of machine learning and deep learning, applying a wide range of tools including algorithms as well as engineering skills to real world problems. I want to make a great contribution to the open-source community to help more people benefit from the development of data science.”

Studying Data Science means that you are always on the cutting-edge of technology, and for James, this is exactly where he wants to be.

“I am learning a lot about the latest technologies in the data science area and also doing some assignments that are very close to the fast-moving industry. This is why it is called “Applied”.

“Sitting in the heart of Christchurch, UC offers fabulous teaching resources and facilities including the libraries, computer suites and fast-speed internet. At UC, I can enjoy the time spent in the lecture theatres, laboratories and studios any time.”

It wasn’t just the world-class facilities that drew James to UC.

“UC has a long history but modern and advanced facilities. Thousands of professors, experts and scholars gather together to give you world-class teaching in different areas.

“As one of the top 1% of universities in the world, there are numerous academic staff who are very professional, helpful and supportive. They answer each of my questions and give me a lot of suggestions to help plan my career.”

As an international student, James easily met people and found friends from across the globe. The friendly faces around UC eased the transition to life in New Zealand.

“There is a lot of support and facilities for international students, from study to daily life. Students are from a lot of different countries. We are like a family here, no burdens of languages or cultures. People are very welcome and helpful.”

Besides his academic success, James also kept up his fitness at the RecCentre and was always on the basketball court.

“I am a basketball fanatic. UC has a wonderful recreation sports centre which has a fantastic indoor basketball court. I knew a lot of new friends who also love playing basketball there.”

During study, James was also offered an internship close to Christchurch city in Lincoln.

“As a part of the master’s degree, I did a summer studentship in Plant and Food Research based at Lincoln as a Data Application Developer during the whole summer. My main job was developing some visualization GUI with R shiny to support the breeding research of different crops. From this job, I learned how to apply the knowledge and skills to the real-world problems. I received the 'Outstanding Student Award' because of my contribution and hard work.”


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