Women in Big Data Global



Data Science Olympians 2023


Data Science Olympians (DSO) is a Technical Mentoring program through Data Science Competitions, offered by Women in Big Data’s Bay Area Chapter. In its third year of offering, this program is specifically designed to advance Data Analysis, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and technical leadership skills through collaborative data science contest participation.

Participants joined one of many possible teams as either a team member or a team coordinator, and worked collectively under the guidance of a data science professional to complete a specific data science challenge. Any Women in Big Data member residing in the United States and who possesses skills in basic programming (any language), was eligible to participate in this 4 month team-based virtual program.

Applications started being accepted from December 2022 until January 10, 2023. Program started the first week of February 2023, and concluded at the end of May 2023. The Data Science Olympians technical mentoring program was well received by the community and we received overwhelming responses for applications for Team Coordinators and Team Members.

Team members worked in a group under the supervision and guidance of an experienced Team Leader and Team Coordinator. Each team’s challenge duration varied with completion before or by the 4 month mandatory completion date.

We are grateful to our DSO Mentors for all the 5 teams Emma Tseng (Applied Scientist at Five9) , Olena Burda-Lassen (Data Scientist at Five9), Sridevi Pudipeddi (Educator at Berkeley and KSU Salina) Namita Saxena (Senior Data Scientist at Williams Sonoma), Avinash Ahuja (Manager of Developer Relations – AI/ML at NVIDIA), who took time from their busy work schedules to mentor and guide their teams to successfully complete the Data Science Olympians 2023 cohort. 

They all helped kickstart and accelerate their team members’ journey into the world of Machine Learning! As one of our DSO participants said – “Great professional advice from my mentor and networking within my team!” and loved the “Hands on project part”!

All 5 DSO 2023 teams chose their challenge/project topic from Kaggle, a well recognized platform that hosts AI ML based competitions and successfully completed it with impressive rankings. Most teams ended up being in the top 10-12 percentile from 100s/1000s of participating teams in their respective competition, which was a great achievement for all being the first timers on Kaggle.

Natural Language Inferencing (NLI) is a popular NLP problem that involves determining how pairs of sentences (consisting of a premise and a hypothesis) are related. Team Inference chose their challenge as Contradictory My Dear Watson Rules to create an NLI model that assigns labels , corresponding to entailment, neutral, and contradiction, to pairs of premises and hypotheses on datasets that included text in fifteen different languages.

Team F1 took up Learning Equality Curriculum Recommendations challenge to streamline the process of matching educational content to specific topics in a curriculum, by developing an accurate and efficient model trained on a library of K-12 educational materials that have been organized into a variety of topic taxonomies. 

Team Data Navigators took up Digit Recognizer – that used MNIST de-facto dataset for Computer Vision. They took up the challenge to correctly identify digits from a dataset of tens of thousands of handwritten images. 

Team Square Roots chose their challenge Natural Language Processing with Disaster Tweets to categorize a dataset of tweets whether it is about a disaster or not. They went extra steps ahead to use Machine Learning Models and Deep Learning models to get the best results.

Team Analytica chose their challenge as House Prices Advanced Regression Techniques to predict sales prices for residential homes based on different factors. Their goal was to develop an accurate regression model to estimate house prices effectively.

Preprocessing datasets, cleaning, transforming data and experimenting with different algorithms and models like Logistic and Linear Regressions, Decision Tree, Support Vector, Naive Bayes, KNN, Random forest, Gradient Boosting and Transformers. Some of the teams did indepth exploration of Deep Learning models and Neural Networks for their use cases, and advanced transformers by using Bert. DSO teams did not shy away from trying the latest technologies while learning the basics, showing their curiosity and learning aptitude. All the team leads were very knowledgeable and provided numerous resources and guidance to their individual teams. 

Kudos to our capable and awesome Team Coordinators for all the 5 teams – Team Square Roots Camille Huynh and Eliza Thornton , Team Analytica Jessica Hogan , Team F1 Kavyasree Vayalpati , Team Inference Namrata Dangol , Team Analytica Shilpa Gupta , who used their amazing and effective communication, organization skills and technical abilities to work with their team leads and all the team members to complete the challenges.

The Team Coordinators and Team Members shared their experiences about how building and fine tuning models has expanded their vision and view of the world, as they see a scope of applying these newly learnt skills in their day to day activities and environments around them.

The Closing Session on June 1st 2023 was an interactive panel session where Deborah Sgro introduced Women in Big Data organization and talked about the DSO program. Deb introduced the Panel Moderator Rupa Gangatirkar, who moderated a panel of Team Leads and Team Coordinators that presented their work to the community, showcasing their skills, talking about their journeys, learnings and experiences from the program. It was very insightful to hear how the participants talked about applications in fields like medical, IT from their learnings from  DSO 2023.  

During Team Square Roots’ presentation, Eliza Thornton shared that – “We loved it so much we are doing a part 2!”, and offered anyone else interested to join as well.

Congratulations to all the team members Hindavi Dinesh Churi, Rebecca Roman, Amaka Ozobia, Bill Lantz, Hemaleka Mohanram, Devi Chitra, Alicia Ouyang, Iryna Grom and Jacqueline Gonzalez who completed the Data Science Olympians 2023 successfully, under the guidance of their Team Leads. We wish all of them good luck in their endeavors and applications of Data Science in their careers. 

Here is what we hear from DSO 2023 participants – “I like that it is all women, and that I am programming with a lot of smart women – it’s inspiring”. What one of our Team Members said they liked about the program is – “The ability to work and meet with other women in the data science field and share your perspectives with others and the ability to make connections with teammates.” while working to complete their DSO challenges.

Team Lead Sridevi Pudipeddi shared her views regarding Data Science Olympians 2023 – “This is my first time mentoring at Women in Big Data, the Bay Area Chapter. I met enthusiastic individuals from different fields. I also received a certificate! Thank you for organizing the Data Science Olympians competition to encourage and enrich learners from all walks of life”.

Thanks to our DSO 2023 cohort sponsor Soumyasree Vinod Co-Director of the Bay Area Chapter, and Erika Lunceford Co-Director of the Bay Area Chapter who made this program happen. This program was led by Rupa Gangatirkar and Srabasti Banerjee. Thanks to guidance from WiBD’s Global Mentoring Director Deborah Sgro and WiBD Executive Board Members’ Shala ArshiTina TangRadhika Rangarajan for giving an opportunity to the community to participate in this technical mentoring program. A big shoutout to DSO Media Specialist Anu Jekal, for her help in ensuring that the program media looked great ! 

Please check out Mentoring | Women in Big Data and email any questions to mentoring@womeninbigdata.org.

Recording of the event is available here