Lautaro Cantar holds a bachelor’s degree in economics. After graduation, he worked for two and a half years as a financial analyst for a multinational consulting firm. “I didn’t want to be the usual economist: banks, the trade market, analyzing multiple indicators designed by someone else,” he explained. “I wanted to do something different.” That’s when he discovered data science.
When he was awarded the Argentine Presidential Fellowship in Science and Technology to pursue a degree in data science, he knew that the ideal program for him would be one at the crossroads of technology, public policy, and design.
The Master of Science in Urban Informatics met that ideal. “The program consists of a perfect blend of computer and programming skills, urban studies, visualization, and mapping tools.”
For Lautaro, several courses were influential on his studies, but one stands out. “Big Data for Cities provides an amazing overview of what the urban data science field is like. By the end of the semester, you will know how to code, how to do cool visualization and maps and present your work.”
Lautaro appreciates the support of Professor Dan O’Brien. He recalls, “[Prof. O’Brien] is not only a great instructor but also a very kind and humble person to talk with. Every meeting with him was transformational.”
During the course, Big Data for Cities, Lautaro worked for a semester with Boston’s Business Licenses’ data. At the end of the term, he was invited to join the Boston Area Research Institute (BARI) team to continue his research on the spatial effects of commercial gentrification determinants using open data. Later, he migrated his research efforts to build a Craigslist scraper—a tool used to filter through large amounts of data—for rental housing units in Massachusetts.
In addition to his program and research internship, Lautaro was an intern at The American City Coalition, a nonprofit organization focused on neighborhood revitalization. “I had the opportunity to practice the skills I learned during my program for social good. I collaborated in a consulting job for the Massachusetts’s Department of Housing and Community Development office, and [my work] is currently being used in the deployment of a pilot program.”
Lautaro also developed a tool that allows voucher holders to find websites for housing listings in moderate, high, or very high-income areas in an effort to gather sociodemographic information about a potential place to live. He and his team presented this tool at the 2018 BARI Spring Conference.
Studying abroad was one of Lautaro’s lifetime dreams, but the only way to do it was with a scholarship. Soon after he graduated from college and was strategizing career-making moves, he received an email with information about the Argentine Presidential Fellowship in Science and Technology, a Fulbright-managed scholarship. Lautaro says, “Since you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, I applied right away, and I was lucky to be selected. The process required a lot of work but receiving one is a big honor.”
After he returned to Argentina, he joined the Argentinean Federal Government as a data analyst, working first for the Open Data Office and now with the equivalent of the U.S. Department of the Interior. “I analyze geographical data, and I advise senior offices on different issues. Additionally, I’m dabbling in teaching data science for public officials.”
Lautaro expresses gratitude to the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. “I would like to thank all the faculty and staff of CSSH for being kind, helpful, and patient with me in my two years there. Being away from home for such a long time is not always easy, but the staff made sure that the third floor became a very special place for me, an extension of my house. I also would like to thank Prof. Dan O’Brien and all the folks at BARI for the amazing time. They all were a fundamental part to make my experience at Northeastern and Boston unforgettable.”
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