NCI Blog

Insights into Studying Data Science at NCI: Niamh's Story

Posted by Andrea Leyden on 26 June 2023

Data Science Students

In this blog post, Niamh Daly shares her journey studying the BSc (Honours) in Data Science at National College of Ireland. She recalls her interest in data analysis from a young age, how she learned NCI's course was a perfect fit for her as well as he experience completing her work placement with Dell Technologies. Finally, Niamh discusses her final year project which focuses on the impact of the weather on Formula One and won the overall prize at the Computing Project Showcase recently.

Keep reading to discover the opportunities you could have by studying Data Science at NCI. 

1. Why did you choose to study the BSc (Honours) in Data Science at National College of Ireland?

In first year of secondary school, we were tasked with writing a letter to our future self. This letter was to outline thoughts and feelings that we wanted to share to our 6th year selves. And on my last day of secondary school, I opened that letter. I rediscovered what 13-year-old Niamh had thought during that first year of secondary school. I wrote about my friends and my family, and funnily enough, I wrote about wanting to be a data analyst. It would not have been something that I knew very much about at the time, but I found it amazing that after 6 years of secondary school, I still wanted to pursue a career in data science and discover more about what it entailed.

The next step was to find out where I could study my dream course. During 6th year, my secondary school held a careers fair evening where representatives from a number of colleges and trades came to the school. These people were there to discuss the available courses and programmes at that time. I was thrilled to learn that National College of Ireland offered a Data Science course that would run for the very first time in 2019. It felt like fate! A career I had always wanted to pursue, and now a college that was offering the course.

I went home from that careers evening determined to learn more about NCI and all it had to offer. I found details on an upcoming open day in November 2018 and made plans to attend to learn more about the course. At the open day I was able to speak to a number of lecturers about the course and also hear from Dr Arghir Moldovan, about what studying data science entails, and what data science means. I went home from that open day equipped with answers to my questions and knew in my heart that I wanted to study Data Science at NCI.

I made sure that when I had the prospectus for the course, that I looked at each of the modules that were to be taught each year, in order to make sure I knew exactly what type of modules I was going to be learning across the four years of the course.

2. Can you share some insights into studying data science at NCI?

I thoroughly enjoyed my time studying data science at NCI and have loved every minute of it. I remember speaking about my experience studying Data Science at NCI for an open day event, and one important insight I gave to students considering studying data science was that Maths and English were important aspects that would be required for the course.

Data science is the study of data to derive insights for business purposes. This is carried out using a combination of maths and statistics, programming, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. In order to explain the insights that have been obtained, a combination of reports and visualisations are created. These reports and visualisations are used to tell a story about how insights have been gathered, why it has been gathered in a specific way, and what has been discovered from the insights collected. In other words, being able to explain your findings, and the steps taken to obtain those findings. Because of this, a lot of report writing was required for assignments and exams.

Going into the course, there had not been a previous year of students that could have provided insights and their first-hand experience of what it was like to study data science. So, it was important to be able to provide this insight to future students. Of course, there were programming modules taught throughout the course, which I had discovered in the prospectus. These programming modules started from the absolute basics, with no previous knowledge being required.

Mathematics Alternative Exam

National College of Ireland  offers an alternative maths exam for students  who do not attain a H5 in Leaving Cert exam - learn more here.

A major advantage to studying Data Science at NCI is the work placement module that is available in the third year of the course. Knowing that during the third year of the course, you will have an opportunity to apply learned knowledge from the course in a professional work environment is a major benefit for when you finish the course and head into the professional environment.

I was lucky enough to complete my work placement with Dell Technologies as a Data Analyst Intern. The NCI careers team did a fantastic job providing a list of available job opportunities at the beginning of third year which students were able to use to apply for positions. We were also provided with assistance from the careers team such as interview preparation and CV review which assist in the process for securing a work placement. A big thank you to Siobhan Mockler on the careers team who took the time to give mock interviews and amazing assistance during the interviewing process.

3. You completed your work placement with Dell Technologies in the third year of the course. Can you share your experience working at Dell Technologies and what you learned as a result of your placement?

As mentioned above I joined Dell Technologies for my 6-month work placement as a Data Analyst Intern. During my internship I worked on a global team working with people from across the globe, in different offices, countries, and time zones.

The internship at Dell Technologies was a fantastic programme with so many opportunities to develop professionally and personally. Each week there were different events that the interns were able to take part in where we were able to work with other interns and also learn from other professionals within the company.

During my internship at Dell Technologies, I signed up to absolutely everything that they had to offer! I joined company Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) where I attended events and networked with people from different areas of the company and from different business units. I completed new learning courses in order to continue to develop my personal and professional skills. I took part in the intern hackathon with interns that I had met during the programme. After our progression from the semi-final into a final with 4 incredible teams and ideas, our team was awarded the winners of the intern hackathon 2022. Our solution was able to make a difference in the real-world as it was then implemented by the Talent Acquisition team for the following years intern cohort. I was also able to volunteer for multiple programmes that were held during the internship which allowed me to meet with people that were working in different departments within Dell Technologies.

I threw myself into all that Dell Technologies had to offer and learned how to apply what I was learning on the Data Science course, into real-world examples and situations. I worked on projects and presented my findings during weekly meetings with my managers and the larger team. While working at Dell Technologies, I had the opportunity to meet with so many amazing people that provided me with invaluable information and insights into professional and personal development, both at work and outside of the work environment. My manager, Wissam Halabi, was a valued mentor and encouraged me to go outside of my comfort zone and to meet with new people along the way.

At the end of my internship journey with Dell Technologies, I applied to become a Dell Technologies Campus Ambassador. I was lucky enough to be 1 of 3 interns that were chosen to be Campus Ambassadors at our respective colleges. As Campus Ambassador for Dell Technologies in National College of Ireland, I have been able to meet and connect with new people regularly. I was able to participate in the Dell Technologies ‘Dell on Tour’, speaking to students about my internship experience at Dell Technologies. I spoke to third year work placement students about the interview process and my internship experience and was able to meet so many students from NCI that I would never have had the opportunity to meet before!

4. You recently won the overall prize at the Final Year Computing Project Showcase – Congratulations! Can you tell us about your project?

Formula One has always been a passion of mine; from my first project in primary school at the age of 9 when I wrote about my favourite driver, to my Junior Certificate art project in secondary school where I created art inspired by the Formula One seasons, and now full circle to my final year project in National College of Ireland for my undergraduate degree in Data Science.

Formula One is a data driven sport where data is continuously being gathered and processed to facilitate fast paced decision-making to get the best results. A challenge that Formula One has faced in recent years has been adverse weather conditions causing stoppages to the Formula One races. These stoppages occurring in the form of red flags, safety cars, and virtual safety cars. In some cases, the full race distance was not being completed due to these stoppages, and instead races being completed under a countdown clock as opposed to a lap counter.

A recent example of this, and the inspiration for the project, is the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, whereby the race was scheduled to run 44 laps, and ended up being officially concluded after 3 laps due to the torrential wet weather conditions at the circuit. In its wake, the event left a heap of disappointed fans and a question as to the impact the weather has on Formula One. It would seem that the weather is having a greater impact on the sport and its ability to perform to the highest standard in these conditions.

ACFFB969-7D45-45F5-AE37-ED0F4E217AA9All Final Year Computing Project Showcase winners pictured with representatives from NCI and Citi. 

My project is an analysis to determine the impact weather has had on Formula One as a sport, utilising historical Formula One and weather statistics, sourced and compiled from a number of sources.

The NCI Computing Project Showcase was an amazing opportunity to meet with the other 4th year school of computing students and to learn more about what everyone had been working on during the year for their projects. For the first time since the global pandemic, the project showcase returned to campus with friends, family, and representatives from leading companies in attendance. It was a fantastic event to celebrate everyone’s hard work and to meet for the final time on campus before our graduation in November!

I was honoured to have received the Overall NCI Computing Project Showcase Prize at the event and to receive the prize that was sponsored by Citi.

Check out Niamh's poster which outlines a summary of her award-winning project.

5. Do you have any advice for someone who is considering their college choices and who may be interested in studying data science?

My main piece of advice for anyone considering their college choices is to do the research! Make sure that you know what the course will entail before you start studying it and whether you think it is the right fit for you.

The full-time prospectus is your best source of information as it details all the college courses and the module schedules for each of the years on the course. Obviously at this stage you don’t need to know everything before you start the course but having the basic understanding of what it is you will be learning will help you be more equipped for studying the course in the future.

6. Finally, what’s next for you and your career?

In August I will be returning to Dell Technologies as a graduate. I have had an amazing year as the Dell Technologies Campus Ambassador and cannot wait to get straight into applying everything I have learned over the last 4 years into my job!

I have thoroughly enjoyed my 4 years of studying my data science degree and could not have gotten this far without the support of all of my lecturers and colleagues that I have met along the way!

Niamh studied the BSc (Honours) in Data Science NC025 at National College of Ireland. If you have any questions about this course, our School Liaison Officer, Karen Campbell, would be happy to help. You can contact her directly by emailing

Topics: CAO, School of Computing, Student Testimonial, Undergraduate, Leaving Certificate, Full-Time Courses, STEM