In any industry, the ability to collect, analyze, and model data has increasingly become a necessity. Thus, data science continues to be in high demand, and it has become a popular area of study for ISyE students, who often work with data in their courses. Maxim Geller, a second-year student in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) has ventured into data science, serving as an executive board member of the club Data Science @ GT (DSGT). Each year, DSGT hosts a hackathon called Hacklytics, which most recently took place in February. You can read more on Geller’s experience with DSGT and Hacklytics below.
What can you tell us about DSGT as an organization?
Data Science at Georgia Tech formed in Fall 2018 in order to provide students with a home to learn data science skill sets and apply them to hands-on projects, all with an emphasis on both serving our community and gaining experience in industry. There are around 200 members, with a healthy mix of class years, including graduate students.
What interests you about data science? Why did you join the club?
I think it's amazing that we can use data to uncover insights that can help people make informed decisions, whether it's for themselves or for a business. The whole cognition process can be amplified to a point where machines are capable of recognizing patterns our brains cannot, which allows us to make better judgements. I joined DSGT because I wanted to learn how to use this skill set to complement my ISyE coursework.
ISyE recently formalized data analytics as its newest undergraduate concentration, and it's already a popular choice. To what would you attribute this level of interest?
I think that more and more, students realize they don't have to major in computer science to learn how to apply data science to their chosen field of interest, and there's a burgeoning hiring surge for students who can implement these various algorithms and techniques, as well as clearly explain to a stakeholder or other non-technical person what's going on with the particular model, code, and produced data. This is a valuable skill that we already develop through our courses, so it's a natural progression to see more and more IE's transition to becoming data scientists.
How does DSGT complement the data analytics classes ISyE students take for their degree?
DSGT offers a way to actually apply what you have learned in a meaningful way through our projects. Some of our projects in the past have included applying a natural language classifier to parse a job description into a group of skills that can be used to match individuals on the autism spectrum to their next job, and another project team built an intelligent tornado activity predictor that can perform to the same accuracy or better than models presently used by forecasters at a fraction of the computing power.
Why should students join the club? What specific things does DSGT offer?
If you are interested in actually diving into what the buzzwords of the day mean, DSGT offers workshops to actually delve into these hot topics as well as projects and events -- like Hacklytics -- where you can apply them. In addition, we've launched an internal 10-week bootcamp that can show you how to approach data and think like a data scientist.
What is your role on the executive board, and what are you responsible for?
I am the director of Hacklytics, our annual data science hackathon. This year, it was open to all students -- not just within Georgia Tech, but also in the United States and around the world as we went digital for the first time. I love this event because it really follows the part of our mission that has to do with educating our community, and hackathons are an awesome way to do that in a very experiential way. You can follow @hacklytics on Instagram to get even more updates.
Describe what the virtual Hacklytics 2021 was like for the participants and for you as the director?
Virtual Hacklytics was amazing! We welcomed about 350 participants from 20 different countries for a weekend filled with workshops, talks, and plenty of hacking. Being completely digital meant we had to employ a host of tools to create an engaging experience for participants; from the virtual venue to live chatting and attending live workshops, the Hacklytics team did an outstanding job making this event come alive. Everyone involved had to put forth a huge effort to make sure participants knew what was happening when and how. Even among ourselves, the communication had to be impeccable since members of the organizing team were remote.
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Communications Assistant H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering