Spring 2015 Pittsburgh Data Jam Field TrIp: IBM Big Data Lab

As part of the Spring 2015 Pittsburgh Data Jam event, several field trips were organized to take Pittsburgh-area high school students to IT departments at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Management Science Associates, and IBM.

Big Data Career Development: Over a 100 students from Pittsburgh-area high schools, including Avonworth, Bethel Park, The Ellis School, North Allegheny, Springdale, Cornell, and South Fayette, participated in a field trip to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Management Science Associates, and IBM in early April 2015 as part of the 2015 Pittsburgh Data Jam program. The goal was for the high school students to learn first hand what it is like to work in a real big data environment. Images in this posting by Matt De Reno.

Big Data Career Development: Over a 100 students from Pittsburgh-area high schools, including Avonworth, Bethel Park, The Ellis School, North Allegheny, Springdale, Cornell, and South Fayette, participated in a field trip to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Management Science Associates, and IBM in early April 2015 as part of the 2015 Pittsburgh Data Jam program. The goal was for the high school students to learn first hand what it is like to work in a real big data environment. Images in this posting by Matt De Reno.

This posting contains images from the IBM field trip, where students gained a first hand glimpse of working in a real world big data environment. Additionally, the students had the valuable opportunity to ask software engineers questions about IBM Watson, a cognitive big data application being developed at IBM's Pittsburgh Big Data Lab. Subsequent blog postings will include images and summaries from the UPMC and the MSA field trips. Enjoy!

Big Data Career Development: IBM Watson Innovations Group engineering productivity program director, Sherri Blaszkiewicz, enlightens the 2015 Pittsburgh Data Jam students with an overview of the predicted high demand for data scientists in the coming years. Blaszkiewicz explained that Harvard Business Review named data scientist as the sexiest Job of the 21st century, and that by the year 2020, the US will have a million more computing jobs than students in the field of computer science. "The work is not only ground-breaking and incredibly interesting," she explained, "it's also financially rewarding.... We all know that when demand for talent exceeds supply, wages rise." 

Big Data Career Development: IBM Watson Innovations Group engineering productivity program director, Sherri Blaszkiewicz, enlightens the 2015 Pittsburgh Data Jam students with an overview of the predicted high demand for data scientists in the coming years. Blaszkiewicz explained that Harvard Business Review named data scientist as the sexiest Job of the 21st century, and that by the year 2020, the US will have a million more computing jobs than students in the field of computer science. "The work is not only ground-breaking and incredibly interesting," she explained, "it's also financially rewarding.... We all know that when demand for talent exceeds supply, wages rise." 

Big Data Career Development: IBM Watson Explorer software engineering manager, Joe Kramer, delivers a uniquely entertaining presentation about his path to software engineering management. The source of his career choice? An abiding interesting in video games as a child. When asked about what he loves most about his job, Kramer replied, "I save the world! I get to write code and actually make a difference." He went on to explain that he would hate doing the same thing day-in and day-out. Kramer said that always finding new things to learn in an ever-changing field keeps him motivated.

Big Data Career Development: IBM Watson Explorer software engineering manager, Joe Kramer, delivers a uniquely entertaining presentation about his path to software engineering management. The source of his career choice? An abiding interesting in video games as a child. When asked about what he loves most about his job, Kramer replied, "I save the world! I get to write code and actually make a difference." He went on to explain that he would hate doing the same thing day-in and day-out. Kramer said that always finding new things to learn in an ever-changing field keeps him motivated.

Big Data Career Development: IBM Watson Innovations Group software engineer, Roxana Gheorghiu, presented a user modeling demo to the students. She explained that businesses want to be able to personalize their messages for each individual customer and social media analytics offers a solution to do this at scale. She went on to explain that psychology research proved over the years that every time we speak or write (an email, tweet, or a personal letter), our intrinsic traits influence the type of words we chose, regardless of the topic. She said that because of terabytes of public social media data, and with the help of the Watson cognitive system, we have the opportunity to apply these research findings to our everyday lives.  

Big Data Career Development: IBM Watson Innovations Group software engineer, Roxana Gheorghiu, presented a user modeling demo to the students. She explained that businesses want to be able to personalize their messages for each individual customer and social media analytics offers a solution to do this at scale. She went on to explain that psychology research proved over the years that every time we speak or write (an email, tweet, or a personal letter), our intrinsic traits influence the type of words we chose, regardless of the topic. She said that because of terabytes of public social media data, and with the help of the Watson cognitive system, we have the opportunity to apply these research findings to our everyday lives.  

Big Data Career Development: IBM Watson Group senior managing consultant, Gabriele McLaren, explains her role in professional services as providing a link between clients and Watson. "We take Watson out into the world, deliver solutions and create long lasting relationships with our customers in the process," McLaren said. "Every situation we encounter is different and unique and solving these problems is challenging, rewarding, and exciting," McLaren added. 

Big Data Career Development: IBM Watson Group senior managing consultant, Gabriele McLaren, explains her role in professional services as providing a link between clients and Watson. "We take Watson out into the world, deliver solutions and create long lasting relationships with our customers in the process," McLaren said. "Every situation we encounter is different and unique and solving these problems is challenging, rewarding, and exciting," McLaren added. 

Big Data Career Development: Do you think out of the box? Are you creative? A Pittsburgh-area high school student - a "Data Jammer" - is put on the spot as he prepares to take his seat returning from a break. The jovial group shared a laugh when the student instinctively answered "yes," when moments before, no one in the group of over 100 students, had volunteered to answer the question. 

Big Data Career Development: Do you think out of the box? Are you creative? A Pittsburgh-area high school student - a "Data Jammer" - is put on the spot as he prepares to take his seat returning from a break. The jovial group shared a laugh when the student instinctively answered "yes," when moments before, no one in the group of over 100 students, had volunteered to answer the question. 

Does the future of data science look promising? Pittsburgh Dataworks president, Saman Haqqi, later explained that the students at the IBM field trip asked the kind of questions that were on the same level of questions Carnegie Mellon University undergrad students might ask to IBM Watson engineers. Perhaps most importantly, the students came away with a glimpse of what a career in big data might look like - a career filled with limitless possibilities!  

Stay Tuned For...

  • UPMC Field Trip
  • MSA Field Trip

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