Science is about curiosity; Data Science is asking the right questions

Alfonso R. Reyes
(19 May 2021)

Today, I had an enriching dialog with a Petroleum Engineer going through his Master’s. I thought it would be altogether fitting and proper to share some of the questions a Subject Matter Expert (SME) - a Petroleum Engineering professional-, should ask to move ahead in the transitioning phase to decarbonization. What it is called now by investors, and major oil and gas companies, Net Zero-2050.

Identifying a Data Science problem. The inner zone of influence.

    1. What is the nature of the problem?
    1. How does it affect the productivity?
    1. Why hasn’t it been done before?
    1. What is it holding us from doing it?
    1. What effect would it have on revenue and profit if we solve it in six months?
    1. Do we have the people to make a pilot using R or Python in six months?
    1. What do I have to do to draw attention from management and get the funding for the project?
    1. Do I have the Data Science skills to kick start the project?
    1. If my supervisor or manager is on board, how do I empower him to speak for the project?
    1. What are the indirect benefits of the organization If this project succeeds?
    1. How do I manage to get my team -SMEs but no Data Scientists- on board?
    1. Can I make a quick app to show the solution?
    1. Will I be able to let go my project when it’s time to send it to production?
    1. How do I translate the Data Science application to Barrel of Oil Equivalent (BOEPD) gains?
    1. How do I keep me focused on BOEPD and undistracted by the gadgets and technology?
    1. What is my strategy to gain the buy-in of senior engineers (Principals, Custodians)?
    1. What resources do I need to prepare an executive summary showing the gains of my approach?
    1. Do I know where the data sources are? Who is the wizard?
    1. Will I have support of the IT department for providing the software and hardware I need in a demo?

Community, Open Source, and Reproducibility. The external zone of influence.

    1. Who are the owners of the processes in my next three levels vertically and horizontally that could help my project to succeed?
    1. Am I giving back enough to the Petroleum Engineering community?
    1. How many open source projects do I have in plan to deliver for this year?
    1. How many of these open source projects are for general use, and how many for Petroleum Engineering?
    1. Am I very aware and practice the scientific method?
    1. Have I started to practice reproducibility?
    1. Do I understand what reproducibility means?
    1. Why is reproducibility is so important in Data Science?
    1. What makes a Subject Matter Expert (SME) unique in regards to Data Science and Machine Learning implementations?
    1. Have I acquired the basic practice to use Git -locally and remotely?

No matter what industry you are, these questions still apply.