Dr. Wes Cox received both his Bachelor of Science and Ph.D. in physics at the Australian National University prior to working in the semiconductor industry in the San Francisco bay area. He subsequently obtained a Master of Information Technology from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia and went on to work as a developer for a VPN software company. Upon moving to Reno, he taught introductory physics at Truckee Meadows Community College before transitioning to information systems in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno.
In a recent interview, Dr. Cox shared more about his experience in information technology in the Master of Science in Business Analytics online degree program at the University of Nevada, Reno.
When did you first know you wanted to enter your field?
I have always been handy with computers, and I spent a lot of time tinkering with computers throughout my childhood. When I was working as an engineer in the Bay Area, I used to drive by billboards that were written in code and it always bothered me that I didn’t understand them. I think that was the initial spark that ignited my interest in getting a proper education in computing. Of course, it turned out to be an even more fascinating field than I could have imagined.
What are you currently most passionate about in terms of your work or research?
Fortunately, my role is entirely teaching focused, so I am able to dedicate all my time on improving the learning experience of my students. What I enjoy most about teaching is watching students develop their understanding and perspective as they move through a program. Currently, I am most excited to develop the MSBA program into the most enriching and valuable program it can be for students.
What excites you most about teaching in an online setting?
I think online teaching enables access to students who otherwise might be unable to participate in furthering their education. Online teaching really allows students to learn in a more flexible schedule. It not only enables people to further their careers by expanding their knowledge and skills, but it also provides an incredibly valuable service to society at large. I strongly believe that increased education leads to increased prosperity for the individual and their community. By using an online teaching model, I am able to provide a world class education to these already accomplished working professionals and enhance their ability to positively impact the world.
What are some emerging innovations or industry trends that are changing the way you approach teaching and your research?
I think the biggest change to the teaching industry is the significant rise in importance of remote/online teaching due to the pandemic. Online teaching definitely changes the way I structure my class. Gaining and maintain student engagement is of paramount importance. Also, it is much easier for students to slip through the cracks in an online setting, because it is a lot easier to just not watch a video, compared to not coming to a physical lecture. As such, a more proactive approach to keeping in touch with students and checking in when they appear to drop off is very important.
What are some ways the UNR curriculum aligns with your teaching and philosophies?
The MSBA program is well designed to take students from a wide range of backgrounds and to train them to be highly proficient data workers. I think the focus on practical skills greatly benefits students, as it gives them real world skills that they can immediately take into their workplace. In addition to these skills of “how do I do it,” the program also provides a strong theoretical foundation so that the students can also understand “why do I do it this way.” Understanding why things are done a certain way enables the student to use their insight to react to, and succeed in, a fast and ever-changing world.
The online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) from the University of Nevada, Reno can help you tap into the power of big data to drive smarter business and managerial decisions. You’ll develop the skills you need to speak the language of data science, while understanding the how and why of business strategy and value creation.