Nate, Data Scientist

Nate, Data Scientist

My Job
As a data scientist in the asset services department, I spend a lot of time analyzing data as it relates to rail equipment and asset health. The goal is to identify factors or features that could help us improve the safety and efficiency of North American freight rail operations. The team I’m currently working on focuses on developing applications to solve issues with individual rail cars — typically related to component failures, such as brake systems. These tools help us notify customers of problem cars faster than ever before, so customers can expedite fixing the component issue. Thanks to the work of the team, Railinc is promptly resolving issues that used to take months to identify.

My Day
It’s different work just about every day. One day, I’ll be digging through data and writing code so that I can conduct a full analysis of a certain problem; the next, I’m in meetings brainstorming, or writing reports for internal and external sources summarizing data. I spend much of my day collaborating — with internal teams, external industry experts, and others — and then pool everyone’s insights and inputs together to create an implementable technical IT solution that we’ve all had a hand in developing. Those moments are the ones I enjoy most in a day. 


"At Railinc, the subject matter is always changing, the challenges always evolving and success is framed by results."


What I Like
Even though Railinc is significant to the North American freight rail industry, we’re a relatively small shop, and I like that Railinc operates like a small company. Everyone working here is familiar with each other, and the environment is very team-oriented. Also, as a Railinc data scientist, I’m able to experience the broadest view of industry movements from my position, a perspective few other companies or positions can offer. So, for someone who loves to work with data, it’s very appealing.  

My Path
I graduated from NC State University with a degree in statistics and was hired at a small marketing analytics startup to work with text data. It was in that role that I realized I’d never be satisfied with just selling products; I was looking for work that had meaning. At Railinc, the subject matter is always changing, the challenges always evolving and success is framed by results. It’s exciting. I transitioned out of marketing and into a data analyst contractor position at Railinc in 2015. When I received the call six months later to come aboard full time, I was thrilled.