Studentled Datathon dives deep into growing industry

Big data is big business — and where big career opportunities lie.To introduce their peers to the growing field of data analytics, a group of Brock University students has created an event that dives into the data phenomenon.Now in its second year, the Datathon Educational Conference takes place at Brock University on Saturday, Nov. 10 and features a series of presentations and workshops from industry experts.“We’re bigger and better in almost every regard,” said third-year Political Science student Nour Hage, who co-founded the event alongside Conrad Lipiec and Thomas Lillo. “We have a lineup of great executives coming in from some of the biggest and best companies in Canada, including Microsoft, RBC, CIBC, Deloitte and BMO.”The event’s roster includes speakers from a variety of backgrounds, such as health sciences, finance, law and digital humanities, as well as experts from several “up-and-coming startups who have big contracts with multinational firms like Apple,” said Lipiec, a third-year Economics student.The Datathon, which sold out in its inaugural year, is about connecting students with industry leaders and helping to guide them on a path to data proficiency, he said.Workshops held throughout the day were developed through discussions with industry insiders about what they look for in workers in terms of preferred skills.By developing those applicable skills, the goal is to help students gain co-op opportunities and “hit the ground running,” Lipiec said.Hage stressed there’s “no experience required” to take the Datathon plunge, as it caters to beginners as well as those who have a keen interest in the topic.“In university, all we do is analyze information; we manipulate it, make use of it and create new information with existing information,” said Lillo, a third-year Geography and Computer Science student, who encouraged students not to shy away. “That’s all analytics is, but with technology added into the mix.”Datathon organizers hope to open the eyes of students from various programs to the possibilities that exist with analytics.“We want to show people this is not just for Computer Science and Business students,” Lipiec said. “There are new data case studies coming out every day in fields you wouldn’t expect, like human resources and accounting. It’s such an innovative field.”Lillo said analytics, especially the tools being focused on at the conference, are “really applicable to every domain.”“It’s only going to become more important as technology continues to improve.”The Datathon’s main sponsor is Brock’s Goodman School of Business. The event, held in Sean O’Sullivan Theatre, will include opening remarks by University President Gervan Fearon.Combined tickets for the conference and related workshops are $29, and conference-only tickets are $19.For more information and a full list of workshops and speakers, visit datathon.ca.

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