WiBD East Coast Chapter Q2 2017 Newsletter

July 14th, 2017

Chapter News

We are happy to announce a new satellite in Boston led by Sunanda Parthasarathy and Shirin Mojarad. The kickoff event for Boston occurred on June 15th with a Salary Negotiation Workshop and has since grown to 126 members. Shirin and Sunanda are both in the Data Science field and bring tons of experience in running meet-ups. We are excited to have them join the Women in Big Data team.

To join the Boston satellite, visit the Women in Big Data – Boston Meetup page.

Organizational News

The Women in Big Data forum continues to grow in membership and outreach across international boundaries! The forum established presence in Latin America with a new chapter in Brazil led by Mael De Franceschi. Read about the kickoff event here.

To find the right chapter/satellite for your location, visit WiBD Locations.


Upcoming Events 

We have a full calendar of activities planned through the end of the year. See below for upcoming events and links to sites for up to date information on other events happening in your area.

Spark Saturday DC

When: September 16th, 2017
Where: McLean, VA

Look for our booth at the Spark Saturday event in McLean VA. Enjoy talks by reputed speakers on topics related to Apache Spark’s uses in Big Data Pipelines and Machine Learning, as well as other technologies in the space. To join this free event, visit Spark Saturday.

Demo, Drinks & Talks with Apache Spark Interactive

When: July 20th, 2017
Where: Tysons, VA

Built around speed, ease of use, and sophisticated analytics, Spark is a powerful open-source data processing framework that extends and accelerates Hadoop. Join the Washington DC Area Apache Spark Interactive group to exchange ideas, inspire and learn from each other, and bring the top minds and innovators around big data and real-time solutions to the table. RSVP at the Meetup event page.

Other Events

To get up to date information on our events, please join our LinkedIn Group and the local Meetup in your area.


May AWS Workshop in Ballston, VA

On May 2nd, Amazon Web Services and Slalom Consulting partnered to host an AWS Big Data Workshop for the Women in Big Data community. The workshop included presentations and hands-on labs on the many AWS tools available for Big Data work. We interviewed Kate Highnam, a participant of the workshop, to get her thoughts and perspective on the event:

What drew you to attend the AWS workshop last month?

I got the email from Women in Big Data to attend their next event and it was perfectly timed since I am currently studying to become AWS certified. I also frequently use AWS for work and wanted to know what other tools I could utilize for big data, so this workshop knocked several birds with one stone!

What experience with AWS technologies did you have before the workshop?

I just started working at Capital One and use AWS technologies every day. Since joining Women in Big Data and fostering my passion for Data Analysis, I wanted to see how I could transfer these skills.

Tell us about some of the events held at the workshop. From which do you think you gained the most value and why?

The main events that had the most impact for me were the general overview of every product related to Big Data within AWS and the workshop where we got to utilize some of the tools previously discussed. The overview provided a great refresher for all the tools available (There are a LOT!) and described some of the new ones I had never heard of including Amazon, AWS Data Pipeline, Amazon Glue, and Amazon Athena. One of the hardest parts of working as a Data Engineer has been translating theory to practice. I can understand a system and its purpose, but while constructing it, I can get distracted by road bump after road bump. At the end, we received $50 of AWS credit and tutorial videos for post-session review before diving into an in-depth walkthrough. The experienced, technical women leading the workshop kept everyone moving and collaborating and quickly addressed issues within the audience as they arose.

Who did you meet at the workshop? What advice have you received and have applied to your job/career?

I am terrible with names, but I met lots of capable women with a wide variety of backgrounds! Some were in management who wanted to understand the work of their team, some were already extremely technical and wanted to meet more technical people. When I mentioned that I am not in the Big Data field, but want to be, I received overwhelming support. The other women (and men!) present immediately recommended resources or sympathized with my desire. It was fantastic knowing I was not alone in this journey and confused on how to start!

What are some next steps that you have wanted to take after attending the workshop? 

I hope I can become more active in Women in Big Data to continue expanding my network and learn more about how I can enter the field. Some of the recommendations I received included experimenting with Amazon Kinesis and going onto Kaggle for sample data sets and exercises. To meet more experts, I will be attending the networking event Women in Big Data is holding on June 22nd at Slalom Consulting.

How do you think AWS will help in your involvement/career in Big Data?

I think AWS will play an important rule since it is a prevalent tool within Big Data. With my background using it and now some awareness of the tools for Big Data specifically, I hope entering the Big Data field will be easier. Thank you for the incredible experience, Amazon!


D.C. Round Table Networking Event

Dr. Mandi Traud

On June 22nd, the East Coast Women in Big Data co-hosted a networking roundtable event along with the DC Women in Data Science group. Over fifty data enthusiasts from all levels of professional experience gathered in Slalom Consulting offices to hear from female leaders in tech in the region.

We were pleased to introduce Dr. Mandi Traud, Senior Data Scientist at Cybraics; Hillary McTigue, Director of Data Engineering at Capital One; Wangechi Doble, Solutions Architect at   Amazon Web Services; and Bethany Frick from Slalom Consulting. Throughout the course of the evening, attendees rotated in smaller groups between stations led by each of our guests. This allowed our guest speakers to share their expertise on a more personal level with event-goers as well as allowed for everyone to network in a more informal setting.

Bethany Frick

Discussions were lively as attendees shared their work experiences and received career advice from fellow networkers and guest speakers alike. To top off an evening of food, fun, and conversation, a raffle was held to give away passes to attend the 2017 Data Intelligence Conference hosted in McLean, Virginia by Capital One. Over twenty winners were selected to attend the first machine learning gathering for the community using and developing machine learning and data intelligence. We thought this three day event would be a wonderful way to encourage our members to keep expanding their networks as well as keep in the know of what’s new in the data world.

Our participants gave very positive feedback about our roundtable event and seem enthusiastic about future events to come. We’d like to give thanks to our guest speakers for giving their time to our community as well as Slalom for allowing us to host our event in their office!

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