Pivigo – The Data Science Hub
By Maya Dillon, Pivigo Community Manager
The Summer of Data Science is well underway with S2DS 2015, and it’s all over social media! By the time you read this, it will be the beginning of week three of five.
It’s all not all about pure Data Science though, it’s about acquiring commercial awareness, developing communication skills and working intensely with a bunch of people from around the world who, by the way, have never previously met! Every one of them talented and driven, with strong personalities, with aspirations in a new field of analytics and research. Team work makes the Data Science dream work! As a result, it’s been a jam packed fortnight of lectures, project work and programming, interspersed with official events, panel debates and social gatherings as well as the odd cheeky trip into London Town for drinks, dinner, Metal gigs and rock climbing?!
The programme began on the 3rd of August, kicked off by our very own Ole Moeller-Nilsson with a lecture on ‘Good Coding Practices.’ A journey into the light and dark side of programming protocol. It was humour with a touch of controversy combined, as Ole quoted a certain R.C. Martin saying that “Comments are always failures.” Something to discuss over a beer?
That morning was followed by project kick-off in the afternoon, and the Forum at the S2DS Campus became a true rendition of a veritable hive of industry. This was the first opportunity that our budding Data Scientists had to meet their project Mentors face-to-face and prepare to get their hands dirty with some real world data.
As day gave in to night, project kick-off gave in to Opening Dinner, a little soiree in Euston, which included speech by Kim, beers, wines, canapes and team Lego games. I have to tell you though, there was more creativity that night than you could expect to see at a guest exhibition at the Tate Modern.
“It’s interesting what you can get out of commercial data in a completely new domain, versus the data I am used to working with in labs. There’s more of it and it’s structured, collected and handled very differently. Data collected in the lab has been recorded to answer a specific scientific question, but the data we are looking at for our partner company is automatically recorded, not necessarily with a particular purpose in mind, so creating some value from this data is a big challenge.” Richard Tomsett on his first impressions on working with commercial data.
The following day, I had the privilege of partnering with Kim to run a lecture/workshop on “Teamwork and Communication Skills” – an absolute fundamental module. After our teams escaped from the moon, we discussed the values of active listening and carried out a post-mortem on the world’s most successful teams. For what purpose? So that the S2DS teams could emulate the characteristics of excellent teamwork.
Past this point it all became a little bit technical. Lectures and workshops in stats were followed by R, Java, Machine Learning, Python, Hadoop/MapReduce, NLP, Spark, Marketing, Databases/NoSQL, including business lectures focused on Finance and Economics, Business Strategy, Project Management and Marketing. As Kim and Jason like to call it, we also deliver a “mini-MBA.”
“The Business Strategy lecture with Aneesh Banerjee, was quite a highlight for me and very interesting, as well as entertaining. The business lectures have given us insights into how we can incorporate the technical world of Data Science with client facing situations.“ Cameron Cairns from Team CarTrawler, on what he found interesting regarding the curriculum.
“I expect the greatest challenge will be the project, working with a new programming language in a new environment with a new team of people from lots of different backgrounds. However, I am enjoying it very much, we are all getting along very well, we are very much in sync.” Fabian Reyes from Stratified Medical on what he imagines will be the challenges during S2DS.
“I wanted to help those looking for a future role in Data Science. For myself I want to manage a project and help motivated and talented PhDs with great ambitions work well in a team.” Marcin Pawlowski, S2DS 2014 alumnus, on why he came back as a mentor for Row Analytics and Volunteer for S2DS.
“I loved diving into the deep end of the extremely collaborative environment that is Data Science, this is something that can be a bit of a shock when coming out of academia – which we all know can sometimes be a solitary endeavour. You’re never on your own in Data Science!” Kaushi Bandara on the most revealing aspect of Data Science.
Now we are full into project work. The majority of our teams have already started with some serious data mining, munging, analytics and simulations, with plenty of support from their hosting companies. As with last year we called in some volunteers, this year they are made up of S2DS 2014 Alumni have come in to share their wisdom and experience with the current cohort, for which we are very grateful. No doubt our S2DS 2015 Alumni will be following in their footsteps next year.
In addition to taking care of the professional development of S2DS’ers we wanted to ensure we were taking care of their personal development and that of their teams, so we added internal mentoring session this year to ensure that the teams feel empowered as they take their first steps on a new career path. For all of us here at Pivigo mentoring, teaching, volunteering, and training it’s such a fulfilling experience to support these future Data Scientist to fulfill their potentials. We can’t wait to see the outcome of their projects at the end of this summer.
Stay tuned for more updates on their presentations and pics of Graduation Dinner.