Feb 01, 2018

Students at Florida Poly earn more than a degree. They gain hands-on training for jobs that impact your daily life. Like the lights in your house, for instance.

Maya Wilson knows firsthand what it takes to keep the people of Tampa Bay supplied with power. She doesn’t drive a truck or climb poles, but her behind-the-scenes job at Tampa Electric Company (TECO) impacts the entire Bay Area’s grid. Each time the power is restored after an outage, Maya is there to analyze the amount of time it took to get back online. The results of her analysis allow TECO to tell you when power will be restored. It’s a challenging job, but Maya says her graduate classes at Florida Poly make it easier. “I’ve used all kinds of knowledge like research methods and statistical analysis. Even ethics comes into play because you want to make sure you’re accurate,” Maya says.

Math has always been Maya’s passion and she made it her major at St. Leo University. She was unsure where to go after graduation, however. A presentation from a Florida Poly admissions counselor gave her the answer: a Master’s with an emphasis on Big Data Analytics. An inaugural scholarship from the Florida Poly Foundation made it possible for her to pursue that degree. One result of the ongoing, exponential growth of technology is an overabundance of data. A big data analyst collects this data, analyzes it and proposes practical applications. It’s a rapidly growing field with a high demand for qualified analysts.

Maya’s overall goal with her big data job is to improve TECO’s accuracy when predicting power restoration. That means looking at every power outage within a certain window and documenting factors like weather, geography and traffic that could have affected power restoration. She solves why it took just an hour to restore a seven-hour job and why a one-hour job turned into seven hours.

Taking the first step toward a rewarding career while still in college is encouraging for Maya. “I took a chance and pursued what I love. You have to step out and try,” Maya says.