This spring, Concordia students, led by high school teacher Dr. Peter Tong, participated in their third big data conference of the school year. However, this one was unique in that it was the very first big data conference and workshop organized by students for students.
The main objectives of the conference were to provide exposure and understanding of big data while creating an awareness of its many applications.
Concordia Big Data students have been presenting at international big data education conferences for years now, but the school community has rarely had the opportunity to engage with them about their work. At this special event, student presenters had the chance to share highlights of their research to parents and students from grade 7 to grade 11.
"Concordia students are very dedicated and passionate learners, and they do great, high-quality work that often goes unnoticed," shares Dr. Tong. "Such an event allows us to provide them with a sense of encouragement and for our community to be aware of their passion for learning."
Joining our student presenters was professor Xin Li, dean of graduate studies at Duke-Kunshan. Professor Li, an award-winning scientist specializing in integrated circuits, signal processing, and data analytics, was invited to deliver the keynote address. Also in attendance was Jess Wak from IBM, who shared insights into Cognos Analytics, a cloud-based business and analytics software created by IBM.
"I thought the talk was very interesting...I gained an idea of the type of problems the AI industry is facing (difficulty hiring AI experts with knowledge in specific domains)."
Robert S., grade 11
"Before attending the conference, I knew about Big Data and a little bit about where and how it could be applied. However, after listening to the guest speaker, my eyes were opened to how much Big Data could impact so many aspects of our lives."
Elena S., grade 10
“For me, the highlights of the Big Data Conference and Workshop were listening to insight from Dr. Li on how what's holding Big Data back is the lack of individuals who understand both Big Data and the field it will be applied in, as well as hearing about projects by students done with IBM Cognos.”
Marcus C., grade 8
"...I learned that big data is applicable in many industries, varying from automotive to healthcare. I learned how in the near future, big data could be used to predict human behavior and make advertising easier for corporations.”
Shreyas S., grade 8
The Concordia Big Data Conference and Workshop provided a unique learning opportunity for students to see how data influences our world. It also gave students a chance to familiarize themselves with the type of work students take on in the Big Data applied learning course. "Events like this allow our students to be more aware of such applied courses that are available only at our school," beams Dr. Tong, "and it’s even more beneficial when the workshop is being led by a student who is one of their peers."
In fact, the workshop on IBM Cognos Analytics was led by Concordia senior Athena R. She was only a junior when she took Big Data Analytics and in a very short time, Athena taught herself how to use the software to a point that she can present and lead a basic course. She has even created a series of explainer videos on how to use IBM Cognos Analytics confidently. (https://cutt.ly/gbaRbJk)
Student enrichment opportunities such as the Concordia Big Data Conference and Workshop are made possible by the Concordia Fund.