Joe Blitzstein's free online stat course helps put a critical satellite in orbit

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As loyal readers know, we are very enthusiastic about MOOCs. One of the main reasons for this is the potential of teaching Statistics to students from all over the world, in particular those that can't afford or don't have acces to college. However, it turns out that rocket scientists can also benefit. Check out the feedback Joe Blitztsein, professor of one of the most popular online stat courses,  received from one of his students:

As an “old bubba” aerospace engineer I watched your Stat 110 class and enjoyed it very much. It sure blew out a lot of cobwebs that had collected over the past 35 years working as an aerospace engineer. As you might guess, we deal with a lot of probability. Just recently I was involved in a study to see what a blocked Reaction Control System (RCS) might do to a satellite… I am a Spacecraft Attitude Control systems engineer and it was my job to simulate what would happen if a certain RCS engine was plugged. It was a weird problem and it inspired me to watch your class… Fortunately, the statistics showed that the RCS nozzles that could get plugged would have a low probability and would not affect our ability to adjust the vehicle’s orbit. And we launched it this past summer and everything went perfect! So I just wanted to tell you that when you teach your “kiddos” tell them that Stat 110 has real life implications. This satellite is a critical national defense asset that saves the lives of our soldiers on the ground."

I doubt "Old Bubba" has time to go back to school to refresh his stats knowledge... but thanks to Joe's online class, he no longer needs to. This is yet another advantage MOOCs offer: giving busy professionals a practical way to learn new skills or brush up on specific topics.

  • http://twitter.com/ubpdqn Unknown blogger

    I could not agree more.

    As a senior staff cardiologist from Australia, this course was enjoyable and invaluable in improving my understanding.

    My review of stat110:

    "I came across this iTunesU course in search of a way to improve my understanding in statistics. I am not a statistician but statistical methods are of importance across a lot of aspects of my work life.

    Professor Blitzstein's course is exceptional. The content is structured and presented in a cumulative way. Professor Blitzstein utilizes 'stories' to illuminate enumerative methods and statistical distributions in a manner that hints at the deeper concepts as well as serving as motivations for use of the distribution or the concept. The worked examples consolidate the content. The frequent appeal to check validity and reasonabless of answer (e.g by considering extreme or limiting cases) is extremely helpful. Professor Blitzstein has no hesitation in sharing tactics and strategies to approach problems. Further, common pitfalls are discussed and explanations given to help the student avoid them.

    I have read a lot of books but what these lectures illustrate to me, is the importance of a passionate teacher who knows his/her subject so
    well that Mathematics is presented as more than symbolic manipulation and brute force application of algorithms but deep connections waiting to be revealed.

    I cannot more highly recommend this course. It is even more amazing that it is free content."

    Posts inspired/motivated by Professor Blitzstein (not intended as anything but evidence of effect on non-statistician):




  • Mbaka uche

    Wonderful, excellent, rich, i just don,t know what to say am very glad i came across these videos. It helped me a lot as a statistics student in Nigeria. Thanks Joe Blitzstein and harvard university