Joseph Karbowski

Joe Karbowski graduated from the University of Pittsburgh’s Master of Science in Quantitative Economics program in 2022. He is a Pitt alumnus with a Bachelor of Arts, graduating Summa Cumma Laude, in Philosophy and Classical Languages in 2003, and he earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy from UC Berkeley in 2009. He currently works at PNC Financial Services as a Data Scientist. 

Q: How has the MQE Program provided you with the skills needed to succeed in your current position as a Data Scientist at PNC?

The MQE made the process of translating quantitative data into deliverable results almost second nature. As a result, it becomes less intimidating confronting numbers and graphs and easier to learn new skills.The capstone also inspired me to learn more about natural language processing, which is a big focus for me in my role at the bank. 

Q: What did you love learning about the most during your time in the MQE program?

I can honestly say I enjoyed every class, but my favorites were the courses on machine learning and applied economical thinking. These courses, most of all, demanded the integration of economical/statistical knowledge with coding skills, and, for that reason, I found them the most fun. The same is true of the Capstone Project, which was my very favorite part of the MQE program. 

Q: How did you implement skills from the MQE Program into your Capstone Project?

Our Capstone Project required us to train a transformer model to classify customer complaints according to topic. We had to learn a lot from scratch to do the project. But what enabled us to do so was the fact that, in addition to teaching us first-order content about economics, statistics, etc., the program taught us how to learn/teach ourselves new material. That’s one of the things I’m most grateful for about the program, and it benefits me every day in my current job.

Q: How did the MQE program help prepare you for real-world job/career experience?

It helped me tremendously in a number of different ways. The Capstone and applied modeling courses obviously helped me acquire quantitative and coding skills I use on a daily basis. But the program’s emphasis upon presentation skills also helps me interact daily with individuals with differing degrees of technical knowledge. I’m not stuck in a stats/data scientist bubble; I can talk to developers, product owners, managers, and other business stakeholders just as easily as I can talk to data scientists.