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ResearchNews

07.10.2018

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

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

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.