Does the phrase “machine learning” make you quiver in confusion? Do you look at a spreadsheet of data and feel brooding terror? Have you ever studied statistics and become filled with delusions that what you are learning is pointless?
The Data Science Club at UCSB offers a solution to your problems: the 2019 Data Science Project Showcase, where teams of UCSB students will present on how they applied statistical methods to understanding a wide range of issues. From 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17, groups will showcase statistical analyses they have worked on over the past year, using any kind of data and methods of analysis they wanted.
Each team will present their project for five minutes before a panel of statistics professors and professional data scientists, explaining their dataset, methodology, and results. Teams will then have to defend their project against questions from the panel. Lastly, teams will participate in a postering session, where they will be able to answer questions from the general public about their analyses.
As of this article’s publishing, the panelist team is not yet finalized. Furthermore, the Data Science Club keeps the list of projects that are presenting every year private in order to build overall enthusiasm for the event.
The Data Science Showcase at UCSB is a relatively new annual occurrence, having started two years ago by the equally new Data Science Club. It represents the culmination of a year’s worth of work for most teams, which start forming at the beginning of the year.
Brian Lim, one of the Data Science Club’s project managers, said in an interview with The Bottom Line, “We have what’s known as a pitch fire, where anyone can come on stage and present a project idea no matter how bad it is or how good it is. And if other people are interested in that person’s idea, [then they can form a team].”
After forming, teams work throughout the year with the club’s project managers to keep their project on track. With ten teams having made it to the final event, the only teams that will not present are ones that did not manage to find any results, whether because of technical issues or limited motivation.
However, the ease of access to present in the project showcase may decrease as the event gets more popular. Last year’s showcase featured only seven groups, compared to this year’s ten. Nonetheless, everyone, from data science novices to students with in-depth experience, is invited to participate in future projects to get a chance at presenting in the showcase. “Within our club, there are no stupid questions,” Lim said.
Participants in the showcase, although not competing for awards, benefit from the professional networking that occurs at the event, which prospective employers attend to scout out data science talent. There may also be more concrete prizes: Responding to questions over text, Lim wrote, “We didn’t do awards on previous years, so if we have awards this year, it’s a secret.”
Register here if you’re interested in attending UCSB’s 2019 Data Science Project Showcase.