6 Min

Enhancing Data Science Skills in a Software Company

Leveraging the Potential of Coursera for Continuous Education

In today's rapidly evolving technological landscape, staying ahead of the curve is crucial for software companies looking to excel in the field of data science. As data become increasingly vital for decision-making and innovation, it is imperative to equip teams with the latest knowledge and skills. Fortunately, online learning platforms like Coursera provide an invaluable instrument for continuing education. In this article, we will explore how leveraging the potential of Coursera can be a game-changer for us, particularly for data scientists and software developers, and we ask a team member about his experience with Coursera.

Why we choose Coursera

Coursera offers a vast catalog of high-quality courses from renowned universities and industry experts. Whether it’s team members looking to delve into the fundamentals of data science or specialize in advanced techniques like machine learning or deep learning, Coursera provides a wide range of options to suit everyone’s individual needs. With courses developed and taught by field experts, we can gain knowledge from the best minds in data science.

At SMS digital, we encourage our team members to actively choose courses for their personal development. We also propose courses for which the members can sign up on lists, so that we can run courses involving several participants at the same time. This strengthens the team spirit and enables members to work on topics together. The groups meet after each week of the course or specialization to discuss the learning content.

In the Coursera classes, participants can join discussion forums, interact with instructors and peers, and even form study groups to exchange ideas and experience. A collaborative learning environment fosters a sense of community and allows team members to learn from each other's perspectives. This reinforces the learning effect.

Hands-on learning experience

Data science is a practical field that requires hands-on experience to truly grasp the concepts involved. Coursera addresses this need by offering interactive programming assignments and real-world projects in many courses. These assignments and projects provide valuable opportunities for our team members to apply their knowledge in practical scenarios, enabling them to develop a deeper understanding of data science techniques and methodologies.

One of the significant advantages of Coursera is its flexibility. Software professionals often face time constraints due to their demanding work schedules. Coursera allows individuals to learn at their own pace, providing the flexibility to balance their work and education. With Coursera's on-demand courses, team members can access the material anytime, anywhere, and proceed through the content at a speed that suits their needs.

Questions to Sebastian

Our Senior Software Developer Dr. Sebastian Schreiber successfully completed his course. He gave us some insights.

Which course did you choose and what did you learn?

The "Deep Learning Specialization" course by Andrew Ng on Coursera consists of five learning modules. These modules range from the basics of deep neural networks, such as feed forward neural networks, through hyperparameter and model optimizations to convolutional neural networks, and finally sequence models like recurrent neural networks and transformers – the neural network architecture that is behind large language models such as GPT-4. The course gives an excellent overview of different neural network architectures and their applications, including time-series predictions or image classifications.

Did you need any prior knowledge?

Prior knowledge in calculus and linear algebra is beneficial, but it is not a prerequisite. Any necessary mathematical foundations of neural networks are comprehensively addressed by supplementary videos.

Have you already put the new learning content into practice?

Absolutely. The course has proven to be particularly relevant for our Asset Optimization team, where a substantial portion of tasks revolve around predicting asset health based on sensor time-series data. The concepts of recurrent neural networks and transformer models, highlighted in the sequence model learning module, serve as robust tools for constructing predictive models of asset health metrics. These models were successfully implemented in a practical scenario for predicting sidewall temperatures in electric arc furnaces (EAFs). This prediction model helps to prevent overheating, offering our customers a significant advantage in optimizing the operation and maintenance of their EAFs. The course has therefore enabled us to seamlessly transfer academic concepts into real-world solutions.

Would you recommend it to others?

From my perspective, continual learning is crucial to maintaining a competitive advantage, particularly in rapidly evolving sectors like software engineering and machine learning. Many Coursera courses such as the Deep Learning Specialization serve as an excellent learning environment that not only introduces new concepts through video content, but also reinforces and assesses knowledge acquisition in the form of hands-on programming exercises. That is why I would definitely recommend the Deep Learning Specialization course.

Industry-relevant specializations

Coursera offers specialized programs and professional certificates that cater specifically to the needs of data science professionals. These programs are designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of a specific domain within data science, such as data analysis, machine learning, or big data. By enrolling in these specializations, our team can acquire specialized skills that are directly applicable to their roles. As we operate in the field of metallurgy and develop solutions for the metals industry to get as close as possible to efficient and sustainable production, our team members need industry-relevant knowledge that goes beyond the professional skills they acquired at university.

Continuous professional development

In fast-paced fields like software development and data science, keeping up to speed with the latest trends and technologies is crucial. Gaining in-depth knowledge of emerging topics and cutting-edge technologies ensures that our team members have access to the latest advancements in the field. By encouraging continuous professional development through Coursera, you can empower your team to stay ahead of the competition and drive innovation in the company


Leveraging the potential of Coursera as a tool for further education within our teams helped us to achieve transformative effects. By providing access to world-class courses, we are equipping our team with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in the dynamic field of steelmaking coupled with data science. Invest in the growth of your team, and watch as they become invaluable assets, driving innovation and success in your company.

Alice Idem
Communications Manager
SMS digital GmbH