2023 was an incredibly busy year for the entire HPCC Systems team in the best ways possible. The year was packed from start to finish with Hackathons, industry events, global ECL training efforts and community workshops along with numerous new features and major platform upgrades that come with the latest and greatest versions of the HPCC Systems platform.
One of the things that sets HPCC Systems in a class of its own is the true Open Source nature of the platform. It has enabled the team to interact with the community on a level that is unmatched and has helped to give the team the ability to foresee future needs and adapt to the ever changing world of Big Data to remain top of class and first in mind with users.
Off to a busy start
There is a lot to cover so let’s get right to it. The year began with the announcement of the HPCC Systems Community Impact Scholarship, which awards $5,000 a year, renewable over a four year period, to two young women from underrepresented backgrounds studying in technology related fields. A big congratulations is in order for Falon Kelley and Kini Bibai who were the recipients of this inaugural scholarship.
January is also when the HPCC Summer Internship Program applications start to take off. Hugo Watanuki delivered a Virtual Meetup Session to promote the program and to answer any questions from the students. More information about the 2024 Internship program will be covered in the next sections. Interested students may already register to the 2024 Virtual Meetup Session.
The month finished out strong with the beginning of post pandemic in person events. The New College of Florida in Sarasota hosted a 4-day workshop bringing together three of the best ECL trainers in the world in one place. This event reunited not only Bob Foreman with his mentor and manager Richard Taylor but also Hugo Watanuki, who himself started out as an ECL instructor on Richard’s team and now supports the academic program by managing the HPCC Systems Summer Internship Program.
While technology allows for remote training when necessary, there is no better learning experience than a live instructor that can guide you through the lessons and help with any ECL code questions in a classroom environment. 15 students from NCF spent their week diving deeper into their knowledge of ECL, two of which ended up joining the 2023 Summer Internship Program.
Then came February and the team set up shop in Georgia as HPCC Systems sponsored challenges at 2 major Hackathons. The first being UGAHacks 8 held at the University of Georgia. This event had almost 1000 people, 750 in person plus about 250 that were participating virtually. This weekend long event also featured a Hot Wings Challenge that was aced by Bob Foreman so much so they’ve invited him back for round 2 in 2024.
This was followed by Kennesaw State University’s Hackathon for social good with over a hundred students participating. It was at these events that the Find your Paradise Hackathon was introduced, challenging participants to use ECL to develop a scoring system that responds to a user’s preferences and then delivers a list of the best possible places to live. Both events exposed students to a crash course in ECL followed by a weekend of intense coding that produced some really amazing projects.
Spring is in the air
The next quarter began with the inaugural Code Sharks Code day at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida. It was a single day event, which is not typical of Hackathons, however it was a perfect way to introduce the middle and high school students to this type of event. After a workshop and about 5 hours of coding in the “Music is Life” challenge, the judges were really happy and pleased that the students did such a good job embracing a code language that was completely new to them to work on the challenge. The winners of the first challenge were actually middle school students who completed the challenge brilliantly and came up with the best solutions.
Next is the first of the industry community outreach for 2023. In addition to the academic outreach, the team also expands the platform awareness at trade shows throughout the year, evangelizing HPCC systems and putting on workshops at these events.
The first one of the year came in May when the team went to ODSC East in Boston. Bob Foreman the lead trainer had this to say about the event. “It was great to get out of the house again and get back in front of people. We had several hundred visitors at the HPCC Systems table. I gave a special workshop called Relational Dataset Analytics for Clear Customer Insights which was well received. We had about 40 or 50 participants at the workshop, and it was a great event as always!”
No cooling down this summer!
HPCC Systems reach expands globally. The next event that deserves special attention involves a collaboration in June with the RV College of Engineering in Bengaluru, India.
Although the HPCC Systems team based in the United States couldn’t travel across the globe to India to train the students on ECL, the training team adapted to the schedule of the students in India by hosting the class starting at 3 am eastern time. Initially it was projected to only have 30-40 people attending the class. By the time enrollment was finished 119 students and LexisNexis Risk Solutions colleagues signed up for this special training.
RVCE then followed this week of training with a Hackathon of their own. It was a weekend Hackathon, introducing the “Find Your Paradise” theme to India. The winner was the only solo participant in the competition. He came up with an original solution of taking the original Find Your Paradise theme which was centered in the United States and utilized brand new datasets containing local data, and developed a similar scoring system that can be used in India.
June is also the month that the HPCC Systems Summer Internship Program takes full swing! The 2023 cohort of interns was the biggest ever, totaling 15 students from North America, Europe and Asia. For more information about the 2023 class, please read this blog. The application period for the 2024 internship program is already open and more details are available in this job posting.
The HPCC Systems training team also attempted something very unique over the summer. The team does a lot of Hackathon events with college and high school students, but the team decided in July to reach out to some middle school students interested in what HPCC Systems does with big data. This truly proved that ECL is for everyone, students as young as 10 years old were trained on the basic concepts of using the IDE and manipulating data with ECL. Two students really stood out, George Henry who is 10 years old from Tampa and Cody who is 13 and attending Lakeside Middle School in Georgia where HPCC Systems also sponsored the Lakeside Kings Robotics program, which sent three teams to the World’s Vex competition in Dallas, Texas this year in April and they won five awards at the state competition and dozens in local competitions. Bob Foreman, who taught the class was amazed at some of the questions these young coders asked in their ECL Padawans course: “The Code Padawans asked some of the best questions about ECL and HPCC Systems. I’m just so proud how they showed up for this event and I’m just very, very happy for our future generation!”
September was an incredibly busy month as well. The training team began the month with back to back Hackathons beginning with the first Hackathon at American Heritage School in Boca Raton, Florida. The faculty really ensured the students’ success by having an ECL code workshop 2 weeks prior to the event to get as many students as possible up to speed with the HPCC Systems platform and the ECL language. The event took place on a Saturday and over 50 students showed up to participate. American Heritage also competes in robotics competitions. Their Wild Stallions team won the Industrial Design and Safety All Star awards and made it to the finals in Houston, Texas with their robotics team and they ranked number one in the daily division.
After Code Stallions the team then went down to North Miami for Shell Hacks 7. This time around there were over 1500 students in attendance. The event included both an ECL challenge and a workshop that was given on Saturday morning and then the team spent the rest of the day interacting with the students at the venue. At the end of the event there were seven project submissions, one of which was a very good and the clear winner. The team is looking forward to this event again next year.
September finished out with the team’s first appearance at Big Data London. HPCC Systems partnered with RELX business segments at the event to showcase the platform, and connect with HPCC Systems users in the UK.
Poster Competition and Community Day
October began with the 8th annual HPCC Systems Poster Competition, and it was the largest yet with 36 posters from all around the world submitted for judging. The 5 categories participants could compete in this year were Data Analytics, Platform Enhancement, Research, Use Case, and the Community Choice Award.
The winners of the first 4 categories were determined by the panel of judges after countless hours of review and live questioning of the contestants. Once internal judging was complete the posters were then made live for the public to vote on to determine the winner of the HPCC Systems Community Choice Award. Here are the winners:
- Data Analytics – Fulvio Favilla Filho, University of São Paulo, Brazil
- Platform Enhancement – Nivedha Sivakumar, Georgia State University, USA
- Research – Sarah Nash, New College of Florida, USA
- Use Case – Shyamaa Karthik, Saint Andrew’s School, USA
- Community Choice Award – Fulvio Favilla Filho, University of São Paulo, Brazil
During that same week the team also hosted the 2023 HPCC Systems Community day. This event is filled with talks and info sessions to highlight everything new with the platform and allow the HPCC Systems team to really engage the community of users that has made this platform so successful. For a more in depth look into these events please read the 2023 HPCC Systems Poster Competition, Community Day Summit, and Workshops blog.
A few more to finish out the year
After the success of the most attended Community Day to date the team regrouped and finished the year strong with a few more events worth mentioning. The team headed to All Things Open, in Raleigh, North Carolina where the main focus of the conversations was about HPCC Systems Data Lake Management tools.
Then came November which brought with it two industry events. Bob Foreman adapted the “Find your Paradise” big data challenge into workshop form and delivered it to a packed auditorium at ODSC West in San Fransisco. The same week of ODSC West, The Future Technologies Conference was held just a few miles away. For this event the team actually had Narayan Kandel, one of the interns from the 2023 HPCC Systems Summer Internship Program, come deliver a talk about his internship project on Enhancing Performance of Distributed Neural Networks with a GNN Bundle. That week the HPCC Systems team made an incredible impact on the people they interacted with.
All of that energy fed right into the final Hackathon of the year. The team headed back to NSU in Davie, FL for Code Sharks 2. This time the event was split over a 2-day period and students were given a crash course in ECL and using the ECL IDE and the students did a fantastic job handling the challenge.
2023 also brought lots of enhancements to the HPCC Systems platform, the focus of which is aimed to make sure you as a user are running on the latest and greatest version of the platform. It really enhances the efficiency and security for Thor and Roxie. There are too many to list here but please read the HPCC Systems Version 9.x Nifty Features and Highlights blog.
The end of one year, brings the beginning of another
With the close of 2023 at hand, the HPCC Systems team looks back on what was the busiest year since the pandemic. The team finally got back in person and reaffirmed relationships with users new and old whose lives and businesses have been changed by having HPCC Systems in their tool kit. 2024 looks promising with even more events and academic collaborations. If you have any questions about anything in this blog please reach out via the links below.
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