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Class of 2021

Photo of Zixiao Huang

Zixiao Huang graduated from Vanderbilt University in May 2020, with a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science. During his time at Vanderbilt, he took a series of mathematics, statistics and computer science courses, and became increasingly interested in the intersection of these fields – data science. He dedicated the rest of his collegiate life to practicing his data analysis skills through a combination of related coursework and extracurricular activities. During this period, he also developed the skills to be a leader and cooperate with other.

In academia, Zixiao has done work and strengthened his skills in different areas. During his freshmen year when he just entered the college, he participated in a mathematical modeling contest and analyzed the provided census dataset. Based on the analysis of the dataset, Zixiao selected 10,000 people from it for the hypothetical scenario that human beings have to migrate to Mars. In the end, Zixiao and his teammates won the Meritorious Award (top 10%) of the competition. Later on, Zixiao and his teammates also worked on a project which evaluates factors that affect people’s preference of chocolate. He utilized an R package to visualize the distribution of the origins of cocoa beans and chocolate companies. In addition, he also used models such as decision tree and applied the probability and statistics idea to facilitate the analysis. Zixiao further practiced his data analytical skills through a project focusing on New York Airbnb price. Throughout the half-semester project, he was able to perform data extraction, data selection and different forms of data visualization. In addition, he also built different machine learning models such as neural network and random forest for price prediction. With his deep learning and machine learning background, Zixiao got the chance to work in a lab that focuses on human visual perception. In the lab, he tried to utilize what he learnt to modify the StyleGAN model, a model that generates images which look like human faces, in order to design experiments to understand human perception. He figured out how to modify the model in order to generate pictures with different features. Additionally, during his internship as a software engineer at Insigma, Zixiao strengthened his programming skill by writing Python program to ensure the correctness of the bill. All these experiences assist in building up his technical and analytical skills.

As a new member of the MSiA program at Northwestern, Zixiao is excited to join the cohort and dived deeper into the field of data science. He is looking forward to further enhanced his analytical skills through various courses and industry projects. He is also thrilled to exchange ideas among a cohort who possesses the similar enthusiasm as he does. With all the knowledge he learnt, he is eager to come up with new schemes to solve problems in different areas.