Managing data to give others the opportunity to unlock its secrets

With experience working for the United States Army Command and the Alaska Child Support Enforcement Division, UVA Data Science Board member Oscar Wood is well versed in how to discover useful information and find meaningful solutions in seemingly uninterpretable raw data.

After graduating from the University of Virginia with a degree in electrical engineering, Wood worked as a database engineer for the U.S. Army between 2000 and 2003. His assignments focused around assessing and managing data, and he found that his work had monumentous real-world applications.

“It was a valuable job experience,” Wood said, “The work I was doing had a direct impact on several missions during a time when the nation was under constant threat of attack.”

Wood currently serves as the founder and CEO of NNData, a data management company that analyzes and organizes original raw data sets into meaningful statistics.

“We focus on data preparation and management tools,” Wood said of his role at NNData. “We want to enable data scientists to focus on the methods and techniques of their craft, rather than the mundane, though necessary, data tasks.”

Wood knows that this kind of behind-the-scenes data work may not seem glamorous, but he also understands that effective data tools are the backbone to any successful enterprise or initiative.

“We allow the data scientists to be rock star chefs, while our tools and services are the prep cooks and dishwashers,” Wood explained.

Aside from data analytics, Wood believes in the importance of reading. He recently read The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan and Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin.

“Even though my kids are older, I still try to read to them at night,” Wood said, “I try to find the materials that offer the best connections I can.”

Wood’s advice to those pursuing a career in data science?

“Use your skills to contribute and impact initiatives for the greater good,” he said, “it can be immensely rewarding and personally satisfying.”

Learn about other UVA Data Science Board members