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Midwest Big Data Hub co-leads local events for 4th Annual Global Women in Data Science Conference

The Midwest Big Data Hub co-led local participation in the 4th annual Global Women in Data Science (WiDS) Conference, with sponsorship from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and the University of Illinois. The event was free and open to all. The WiDS Conference, hosted on March 4th at 150 locations around the world, seeks to unite and connect women working in data science fields.

“We were very excited to co-sponsor this with NCSA, and support this inaugural Illinois event for Stanford’s Global Women in Data Science Day,” said Melissa Cragin, Executive Director of the Midwest Big Data Hub. “Partnering with others on events such as the Illinois WiDS allows us to best use our human resources and experts network to broaden participation in data science and Big Data research and education. I was honored to participate and have the opportunity to moderate such a terrific panel of accomplished leaders, who shared their perspectives on data science, data-enabled research, and opportunities for women in this space.”

panel discussion
Faculty panel moderated by MBDH Executive Director Melissa Cragin

The WiDS local events, hosted this year at NCSA, featured a variety of speakers from diverse backgrounds presenting sessions on opportunities for women in data science, technical vision talks, and the variety of data science and technology careers available in the Midwest.

“I always enjoy telling my story about how I got started working big data research,” said Ruby Mendenhall, Illinois Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies and NCSA faculty affiliate. “My story also demonstrates the importance of doing outreach to groups that are not traditionally represented in data science such as African American Studies.”

As part of her 2017-2018 NCSA Faculty Fellowship, Mendenhall and NCSA research programmer Kiel Gilleade completed a pilot study called the Chicago Stress Study that examines how the exposure to nearby gun crimes impacted African American mothers living in Englewood, Chicago. Mendenhall and Gilleade developed a mobile health study which used wearable biosensors to document 12 women’s lived experiences for one month last fall. As part of their research, Mendenhall, Gilleade, and their team were able to create an exhibit based on the study data they collected in order to bring the unheard, day-to-day stories of these mothers to life.

panel discussion
Panel discussion moderated by iSchool Professor Catherine Blake

Professor Donna Cox, Director of NCSA’s Advanced Visualization Lab, was a panelist at this year’s local conference, and praised the insights of the other speakers while emphasizing the importance of the larger WiDS conference. “It was valuable to hear other panelists,” said Cox. “The future of Women in Data Science should include raising awareness about important issues emerging in data science, especially socially-relevant issues. We need more women actively involved in the ethics of data science.”

Alice Delage, Associate Project Manager for NCSA and Program Coordinator for the MBDH, said, “Hosting WiDS Urbana-Champaign at Illinois was an opportunity to highlight the campus expertise around data science led by women.” Delage, who co-chairs the local Women@NCSA group, said, “Data science and technologies are increasingly impacting our lives and society, and it is imperative that women and minorities be part of these transformations. We wanted to showcase the groundbreaking work being done in that area by Illinois female data scientists and to inspire more women and underrepresented communities to engage in the field.”

There are also opportunities to expand the event next year by better incorporating student work in the program, Delage said, or running a datathon, for example. Some of this year’s participants have already volunteered to help with next year’s event.

A full list of this year’s speakers at the WiDS Conference at NCSA is here. For more information about the global WiDS conference and ways to get involved, please visit https://www.widsconference.org.

The MBDH is one of four regional Big Data Innovation Hubs with support from the National Science Foundation (award # 1550320), and works to build capacity and skills in the use of data science methods and resources in the 12-state U.S. Midwest Census region. Learn more about the Hub at http://midwestbigdatahub.org.

Thanks to NCSA Public Affairs for contributing to an earlier draft of this post.

Guest post – Data Science Education at Two-Year Colleges

By Matt Fall

Executive Director, Center for Data Science, Lansing Community College

Recently, the American Statistical Association (ASA), with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), hosted a two-day summit in Washington D.C. to discuss outcomes and curricula for data science programs at two-year colleges. The Two-Year College Data Science Summit (TYCDSS) was intended to help spur the growth of data science programs at these institutions and included representatives from two and four-year institutions, government, and industry.

Sallie Keller (Virginia Tech) plenary talk (photo: Nicholas Horton)

The summit included several plenary talks discussing the role of two-year colleges in addressing the need for data scientists as well as a brief presentation from a graduate of a community college data science program. The majority of the summit, however, was devoted to a series of working sessions where the participants discussed ideal outcomes and competencies for three categories of students:

  • Category 1: students intending to complete an Associate’s degree and begin working
  • Category 2: students intending to earn an Associate’s degree and transfer to a 4-year program
  • Category 3: students seeking a certificate

The working discussions provided an opportunity for the summit participants to discuss what was expected and feasible for a student from each category to complete. The discussions were captured by a designated writing group and there will be a forthcoming write-up summarizing the recommendations of the summit participants with guidelines for two-year college data science programs.

This summit was particularly timely for my colleagues at Lansing Community College (LCC) as we have recently begun development of a data science program. Prior to the summit, participants were provided access to a list of resources that included relevant research, reports from related workshops, and sample syllabi. Of particular interest to us, as we design the layout of our program, were the Park City Math Institute’s Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Programs in Data Science (2016) [PDF], the Oceans of Data Profile of the Data Practitioner (2016), and the Oceans of Data workshop report on Building Global Interest in Data Literacy (2016). The resources provided, candid discussions with other two-year colleges regarding their programs, and the discussions about realistic competency expectations were also of interest and informative to our program design.

The intent of the TYCDSS directly supports the MBDH’s priority area of interest in data science, education and workforce development. Two-year colleges provide higher education accessibility to many students who could not or would not otherwise pursue an advanced degree. An increasing number of these schools are offering certificate and Associate’s degree programs in data science and analytics to support growing workforce demand. Growth in these types of programs should naturally lead to an increase in data competency, enrollment in university programs, and larger hiring pools for data science based careers.

Related information:

Midwest Big Data Summer School 2018

Midwest Big Data Summer School reveals how big data can advance research efforts

By Paula Van Brocklin, Office of the Vice President for Research, Iowa State University

Iowa State University logo
The Midwest Big Data Summer School, held May 14-17 at Iowa State University, helped nearly 140 academic and industry researchers, graduate students and post-docs from nine states broaden their understanding of big data and its ability to advance their research interests. Iowa State has organized and hosted the event since 2016.

 
“The summer school seeks to bridge the gap between scientists and engineers using data science technology by introducing them to data science techniques and vocabulary,” said Hridesh Rajan, lead organizer of the Midwest Big Data Summer School and professor of computer science at Iowa State. “The idea is to help these individuals better communicate and leverage their data-science needs.”

The curriculum

The school’s first three days introduced attendees to a range of big data topics, including data acquisition, data preprocessing, exploratory data analysis, descriptive data analysis, data analysis tools and techniques, visualization and communication, ethical issues in data science, reproducibility and repeatability, and understanding domain/context.

On the final day, participants selected one of four tracks, which focused on a sub-area of big data analysis. The tracks were:

  • Foundations of Data Science
  • Software Analytics
  • Digital Agriculture
  • Big Data Applications

Several individuals at Iowa State were instrumental in developing and organizing the tracks’ curricula. Click here for a list of those involved.

Speakers

Keynote presenters at this year’s summer school were:

  • Chid Apte, director, Mathematical Sciences and Blockchain Solutions, IBM Research
  • Tom Schenk, chief data officer, City of Chicago
  • Jacek Czerwonka, principal software engineer, Microsoft Research
  • Will Snipes, principal scientist, ABB Research

A complete list of speakers, including their bios, is available here.

Data science evolving quickly

The field of big data, also referred to as data science, is relatively new yet advancing quickly. For this reason, organizers encourage researchers and scientists to learn as much as they can through resources like the Midwest Big Data Summer School.

“Our aim is for early career researchers and professionals – both in academia and industry – to get a taste of what it’s about, what the state of the art is and how they can start thinking about using data science in their own domains,” said Chinmay Hegde, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Iowa State and a co-organizer of the summer school.

Many thanks

Rajan recognizes the summer school would not be possible without the help of many.

“We are especially thankful for the Midwest Big Data Hub, the National Science Foundation, the Office of the Vice President for Research, Iowa State’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the departments of computer science and statistics for providing both funding and personnel support for this event.”

Next year
Plans are in the works for the 2019 Midwest Big Data Summer School, though no dates have been set. Rajan said more application-specific tracks may be added to next year’s curriculum. Watch the Midwest Big Data Summer School website for more details in the spring of 2019.

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Reposted from Iowa State University’s Research News blog. View the original post here.

MBDH partners on US Ignite Reverse Pitch challenge

part of Hub’s focus on Smart, Connected, and Resilient Communities

US Ignite Hackathon
UIUC collaborators and mentors meet with HackIllinois teams on US Ignite Challenge

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) was awarded a $20,000 grant from US Ignite to host a Smart Gigabit Communities Reverse Pitch Challenge. The MBDH, along with other local partners (see below), contributed towards matching the grant, bringing to $40,000 the total resources available to support the development of smart gigabit applications for the benefit of the local community. Read More

New Report on “Keeping Data Science Broad”

A new report on the “Keeping Data Science Broad: Negotiating the Digital and Data Divide Among Higher Education Institutions” initiative was released by the South Big Data Hub and collaborators, including the Midwest Hub. This initiative brought together the BD Hubs community and other stakeholders to explore pathways for keeping data science education broadly inclusive. Read More