Fly on the Wall – Meet our 2019 Poster Presenters and Judges

The HPCC Systems Technical Poster Competition is held annually the day before our Community Day Summit. It’s an opportunity to meet some of the students who have been working on HPCC Systems related projects throughout the year.  This is when we meet many of them in person for the first time, because our intern program supports students working remotely and across different timezones. It is a great opportunity to put faces to names and to congratulate them on completing the project we have seen develop as a work in progress during the year.

There was a lot that needed to be organised before the event and on the day, Sharon Vanairsdale, Kunal Aswani and Trish McCall were in the room to oversee the contest and help things run smoothly.

Kunal Aswani and Sharon Vainarsdale

Kunal Aswani and Sharon Vanairsdale

There were 13 poster entries in 2019, with students representing 10 different academic institutions. For the first time in 2019, we accepted entries from students located outside the USA. In fact, entries were received from students located across 4 continents (North America, South America, Asia and Europe). Students located outside the USA, presented to judges live across Skype, while the judges were able to follow along using each student’s poster displayed in the judging room.

The full academic spectrum was represented at this competition with posters entered from a high school student, right the way through to PhD and including postgrad students working on research projects.

The posters were arranged around the room in no particular order and the judges’ scoring cards were organised to allow them to move from poster to poster making notes and scoring each entry. With that done, the room is prepared and with one last check to make sure all the students are ready to present, judging can begin.

Meet the judges

Photo of 2019 Poster JudgesOur 2019 Poster Competition Judges from the left, Fabian Fier, Jim DeFabia, Sarah Fabius and Tony Kirk

Three of our judges were colleagues representing a variety of roles from HPCC Systems and the wider LexisNexis Risk Solutions family:

Tony Kirk is a Senior Architect and early user of ECL and the HPCC Systems platform.  Tony has nearly two decades of experience working at LexisNexis Risk Solutions and most of that time has been spent developing data solutions that utilize HPCC Systems. Tony contributes to various projects and products at LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

Sarah Fabius is a Systems Engineer. She contributes to various projects and products at LexisNexis. She is also an HPCC Systems Ambassador and is very active in community engagement. She is responsible for organizing the LexisNexis Risk Solutions annual ECL Code Camp for iRise2 students and numerous other events. iRise2 is a Mentoring Program that supports young people with autism and related disabilities.

Jim De Fabia leads the documentation team for the HPCC Systems platform. Having been part of the platform development team for nearly two decades, Jim has a wide range of knowledge about the HPCC Systems platform. His understanding of the inner workings of the system components perfectly placed him to judge the equally wide ranging topics covered by the posters entered into this competition.

Fabian Fier was our guest judge, representing the HPCC Systems open source community. Fabian is a familiar face at our Community Day Summit, having presented on a number of previous occasions about his academic research:

It takes longer than you might imagine to judge every single poster, so we’d like to give a big thank you to all our judges for their time.

Meet the Students

Eight of the students presenting had joined the HPCC Systems intern program in 2019. Five students presented posters based on projects in progress or completed by our Academic Partners.

To see more detailed information about each poster, view the abstracts and see a larger version of each poster on our Technical Poster Contest wiki.

Posters presented by students joining the 2019 HPCC Systems Intern Program

These students worked alongside a mentor from the HPCC Systems team for a 12 week period, completing the project illustrated by their poster. In many cases, a professor from the student’s academic institution also provided mentoring support. The posters show clearly not only the challenging nature of the projects they chose to complete, but also their dedication and determination to meet the challenge head on, with each student demonstrating a strong work ethic.

Akshar Prasad
BTech in Computer Science
RV College of Engineering, Bengalaru, India

photo of Akshar Prasad

The features of a stored value card, while attractive to consumers are also susceptible to fraud. Identifying fraudulent methods cost effectively and quickly is a challenge for companies who supply these cards. Akshar’s poster illustrates a solution to this problem by the application of the CNN model in ML for the dynamic detection of fraud in stored-value cards.

Listen to Akshar present in our 2019 August Tech Talk episode.

Machine Learning Techniques to Understand Partial and Implied Data Values for the Conversion of Natural Language to SQL Queries on HPCC Systems

Akshar Prasad - 2019 Technical Poster

Notes from the judges scorecards

Judges remarked on the strong purpose behind Akshar’s project idea and the excellent examples he used which were clearly presented. Akshar did a great job of walking our judges through an end to end description of his findings.

Christopher Connelly
Data Scientist
North Carolina State University

Chris Connelly

The ultimate goal in any sport is to win. Coaches and athletes must be striving to be able to compete at peak performance. The field of sport science is a rapidly growing field that looks to address the questions that come with trying to help athletes be at their best when it matters most. Christopher’s project involved uploading GPS data into HPCC Systems, processing, manipulating and visualizing that data, to see how HPCC Systems can be used to optimize raw GPS data, collected with the NCSU soccer teams, to help develop training programs to improve sport performance.

Listen to Christopher present in our November Tech Talk episode.

Cleaning and Analysis of Collegiate Soccer GPS Data in HPCC Systems

Chris Connelly -2019 Technical Poster

Notes from the judges scorecards

This project was considered to be a very practical use of HPCC Systems, using the strengths of the system to process and anaylze what must have been a very large quantity of data. Christopher did a great job of explaining the methodology involved in his well presented poster and judges remarked on how they would be interested in hearing about future work planned to take his initial findings further.

Farah Alshanik
PhD Computer Science
Clemson University

Farah Alshanik

Farah’s project uses a text vectors bundle (CBOW) with HPCC Systems to find the common words for any datasets. Her hypothesis is that eliminating domain based common words, will enhance the performance of the classification methods used as well as improving the results of topic modeling. HPCC Systems’ ability to massively scale-up and its fast distributed data storage enhances the performance of the methodology.

Listen to Farah present in our September Tech Talk episode.

Domain Based Common Words List Using High Dimensional Representation of Words

Farah Alshanik - 2019 Technical Poster

Notes from the judges’ scorecards

Judges felt that this was a unique idea for preprocessing text. They were impressed that Farah had used three different HPCC Systems Machine Learning bundles during her project and felt that her ideas stretched the system in an innovative way. Farah presented clearly using good examples and the explanation of her achievements was easy to follow.

Huafu Hu
Masters of Science
Georgia State University

Huafu Hu

Huafu’s project was based on using HPCC Systems to implement a data processing pipeline for the car insurance industry. His analysis showed the potential for reducing the damage caused in vehicle accidents as a result of human behaviour, which in turn has significant cost reduction implications for insurance companies.

Listen to Huafu present in our November Tech Talk episode.

Build Big Data Processing Infrastructure with HPCC Systems for the Connected Cars Industry

Huafu Hu -2019 Technical Poster

Notes from the judges scorecards

Judges commented on the innovative approach of this project, which challenges the insurance industry to look at how they assess insurance risk in a slightly different way. They were interested in his data ingest solution and acknowledged the potential this idea had for dealing with vast quantities of data. Judges specifically mentioned the quality of Huafu’s pipeline visualization and found his presentation fascinating and very easy to follow.

Muiredach O’Riain
Graduate of Goldsmiths, University of London

Muiredach O'Riain

Using our technology, Muiredach aimed to build a reliable classification model, capable of accurately classifying an input sound file to its location. His ambition was to demonstrate a proof of concept for this technology, laying the groundwork for potentially the next step in forensic audio analysis and a new means of gathering information through sound.

Machine Learning and the Forensic Applications of Audio Classification

Muiredach ORiain - 2019 Technical Poster

Notes from the judges scorecards

Comments about this project started with words like, ‘cool’, ‘very nice’, ‘definitely new’ and ‘outside of the box thinking’. They were also impressed by the design of Muiredach’s poster, finding it easy to follow. This, coupled with his presentation, made what was was felt to be a complex topic easy to understand. The numbered steps really helped the judges to follow Muiredach’s thought processes and achievements.

Robert Kennedy
PhD Computer Science
Florida Atlantic University

Robert Kennedy

Robert researched and developed GPU accelerated Deep Learning algorithms on HPCC Systems while also creating an HPCC Systems VM on Hyper V, which would benefit this and future projects. He delivered a software library providing us with GPU accelerated nueral network training while also expanding our existing deep learning capabilities.

Listen to Robert present in our September Tech Talk episode.

GPU Accelerated Neural Networks on the HPCC Systems Platform

Image showing Robert Kennedy's poster

Notes from the judges’ scorecards

Judges were extremely impressed that Robert was focussing on GPU in his project, which they felt was a major contribution and significant improvement of extreme relevance to HPCC Systems community users. His poster was very well structured, allowing judges who were not knowledgeable in this field to follow and understand the complex ideas involved, which combined several different technologies.

Sathvik K R
Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science)
RV College of Engineering, Bengalaru, India

photo of Sathvik K R

Sathvik’s aim was to support Octave by allowing the embedding of Octave database queries within ECL code. This was achieved via simple wrapper classes to handle scalar values and structured data, including multi-threaded access from the ECL side. This adds to the growing list of embedded languages and datastores we currently support.

Listen to Sathvik present in our 2019 August Tech Talk episode.

Octave Plugin for HPCC Systems

Sathvik K R - 2019 Technical Poster

Notes from the judges scorecards

The judges were pleased to see a student complete a project that provides another way for HPCC Systems to connect with an additional programming language. It was felt that Sathvik’s contribution was very relevant to our Community Day theme of Challenge Yourself – Challenge the Status Quo because it was a technically involved project, requiring a level of knowledge of ECL that must have been a challenge to learn and use so effectively during a 12 week internship.

Vannel Zeufack
Masters in Computer Science
Kennesaw State University, USA

photo of Vannel Zeufack

The aim of Vannel’s project was to adopt a number of machine learning and big data analysis techniques, to implement an algorithm with the ability to detect unknown cybersecurity threats. The ideas for his project were based on this paper: Experience Report: System Log Analysis for Anomaly Detection by Shilin He, Jieming Zhu, Pinjia He and Michael R. Lyu.

Listen to Vannel present in our September Tech Talk episode.

Developing and Assessing Unsupervised Anomaly Detection Methods using HPCC Systems

Vannel Zeuack - 2019 Technical Poster

Notes from the judges scorecards

Judges were impressed with Vannel’s idea to extend HPCC Systems with an automated solution for the problem identified and they were excited by his vision for future ideas to extend this work. Vannel presented well to the judges who felt that his ideas were well organised and his explanation clear. He made good use of visualisations which helped the judges to follow his thought processes and achievements.

Posters presented by students representing our Academic Partners

Our Academic Partners complete important research using HPCC Systems while processing and analysing their data. The work they do provides significant insights that can be used, for example, to improve the lives of others, contribute to the success of a business and help organisations improve their delivery of a service. They also contribute innovative features and enhancements, helping to extend the HPCC Systems platform. The following posters represent the collaborative HPCC Systems related projects that some of our Academic Partners have worked on in 2019.

Alyssa Messner
Masters in Data Science and Business Analytics
Wayne State University, USA

Photo of Alyssa Messner

The purpose of this study was to utilise data analytics to gain a deeper understanding of mental illness and substance abuse. Using the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the HPCC Systems Machine Learning Library, Alyssa explored the relationship between co-occurring diagnoses of mental illness and substance use disorder

Exploring Co-occurring Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Disorder Using HPCC Systems

Alyssa Messner - 2019 Technical Poster

Notes from the judges scorecards

Alyssa’s poster design attracted the attention of the judges who felt it was visually strong as well as well as easy to understand. They felt that this interesting use case also told a great story, while making a positive contribution to a important debate on a subject that affects many people. They were impressed by Alyssa’s use of the HPCC Systems Machine Learning Library on a very large and wide dataset, commending her use of the visualization bundle to present her results effectively.

Andre Felipe Santos Martins
Federal Institute of Espírito Santo (IFES) – Campus Serra, Brazil

Photo of Andre Felipe Santos Martins

The goal of this project was to investigate the basic elementary school infrastructure available for all students and school dependencies such as water supply, electrical network, sewage network, internet access and the availability of ramps, handrails, signage and accessible toilets for people with special needs.

Infrastructure Analysis of Elementary Schools in Brazil Using HPCC Systems

Andre Felipe Santos Martins - 2019 Technical Poster

Notes from the judges scorecards

Judges felt that Andre’s poster was organised very clearly, making good use of visualisations to present the facts and results. From their comments, they clearly found it very interesting to learn about a project focussing on an important issue local to Brazil. Andre explained his motivation and results well and the judges were particularly impressed with the insights he discovered leading to his conclusions.

Elimar Rodrigues Da Macena
Federal Institute of Espírito Santo (IFES) – Campus Serra, Brazil

Photo of Elimar Rodrigues Da Macena

Elimar used the HPCC Systems platform to analyze crime patterns in the state of São Paulo in Brazil between the years of 2006 and 2017.  Based on the type of information available in the public database used, Elimar focused on the creation of patterns around victim profiles, crime concentration, time of occurrence, as well as seeking trends among crime types.

An Exploratory Analysis of Crime Data in Sao Paulo State

Elimar Rodrigues Da Macena

Notes from the judges scorecards

Judges commented on Elimar’s passion for his project which was evident from his clear and conscientious presentation. This project was a great use case for HPCC Systems and Elimar showcased some expertly chosen visualizations to compliment his findings. The judges appreciated his step by step explanation and were captivated by the subject matter and the interesting insights into a problem local to Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Jack Fields
American Heritage School, Florida, USA

Photo of Jack Fields

Jack’s project involved integrating HPCC Systems into the American Heritage School Autonomous Security Robot, to allow them to ingest data and apply advanced sorting techniques. The aim was to develop a safety tool with the ability to recognise potential risks to students and staff on campus that might otherwise be missed by the human eye.

American Heritage School Autonomous Security Robot

Jack Fields - 2019 Technical Poster

Notes from the judges scorecards

Judges were struck by the level of technical knowledge and expertise shown by the high school students who worked on this project. Jack was a very good presenter and had also done a great job of producing a poster that clearly demonstrated the amount of thought and work that had gone in to making this project a success. Judges commented about the relevance of the subject matter in light of recent events that have had devastating effects on some school communities in the USA.

Yash Mishra
Applied Research Assistant
Clemson University

Photo of Yash Mishra

Many commercial cloud resources are available to deploy high performance systems but managing these resources can be tedious. This project looks at how to automate the steps involved in provisioning clusters, the execution of jobs on those clusters and the deprovisioning of the cluster in a single step when the job has completed.

Automated Provisioning an De-provisioning of HPCC Systems on Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Yash Mishra - 2019 Technical Poster

Notes from the judges scorecards

Judges noted the relevance of this project given that we are in the process of making significant improvements to make it easier and more cost effective to use HPCC Systems in a cloud environment. They enjoyed listening to Yash tell the story behind his project idea and found his presentation to be well structured and easy to follow. Judges were impressed by this project because they felt it was the kind of approach that would definitely improve cloud usage of HPCC Systems.

Presenting to the Judges

This year’s competition saw an increase in the number of posters entered on previous years. Each student has 5-7 minutes to present, so you can imagine that the judging process is quite intense and takes time. The students attending in person on the day are given a randomly selected spot in the room. Their poster is displayed on a stand and a table is provided for any student that may want to run a demo or show some results live.

Jack Fields presenting to judges Sarah Fabius and Tony Kirk              Christopher Connelly presenting to judges Jim DeFabia and Fabian Fier

     Jack Fields presenting to Sarah Fabius and Tony Kirk                          Christopher Connelly presenting to Jim DeFabia
and Fabian Fier

The judges were divided into two groups and started at different points around the room to allow each presenter to be heard clearly. The event organisers notify the presenters and judges when time is almost up. Believe me when I say that is very tempting to overstay! Each project involves a deep dive into an interesting topic and it is easy to get drawn in and lose track of time.

For the first time, we had students presenting from locations outside the USA and this was not without an element of risk, given that these students presented live over Skype and internet connections don’t always play nicely! Our remote presenters were Akshar Prasad and Sathvik K R located in India, Andre Felipe Santos Martins and Elimar Rodrigues Da Macena located in Brazil and Muiredach O’Riain located in the UK.

On the day, these presentations went relatively smoothly. Their posters were displayed in the room for the judges to see and it was great to meet them virtually and hear them talk about their work ‘in person’.

Akshar Prasad presenting 2019

                                 Akshar Prasad presenting live over Skype from India

Andre Felipe Santos Martins presenting 2019

Andre Felipe Santos Martins presenting live over Skype from Brazil

Muiredach O'Riain presenting over Skype

Muiredach O’Riain presenting live over Skype from London, UK

Announcing the 2019 HPCC Systems Poster Contest Winners!

Awards go to the top three, highest scoring poster presenters. Judges score the presenters in three categories:

  • Content. We are looking for originality, relevance to our open source project and relevance to the theme of the conference, which this year was Challenge Yourself – Challenge the Status Quo.
  • Poster design. The overall appearance of the poster including the use of visual aids and applicability to the topic presentation.
  • Presentation. How effectively the project ideas and challenges are communicated, including an assessment of the clarity and flow of the presentation.

Counting up the scores is always an exciting time. Every year, the competition is closely run and it is very clear from the judges comments that they have found it difficult to choose from the variety of topics and high standard achieved by all the students. When we finally have the results, we keep them under wraps until the following day when the announcement is made during our Community Day Summit (Watch Recording / View Slides).

Our congratulations go to…

2019 Poster Winners

                         2019 HPCC Systems Poster Contest Winners: From the left, Alyssa Messner, Robert Kennedy and Vannel Zeufack

 1st Place Winning Entry
Robert Kennedy

Florida Atlantic University
GPU Accelerated Neural Networks on HPCC Systems Platform
(View Poster / Read Extract)

 2nd Place Winning Entry
Alyssa Messner
Wayne State University
Exploring Co-occurring Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Disorder Using HPCC Systems
(View Poster / Read Extract)

 3rd Place Winning Entry
Vannel Zeufack
Kennesaw State University
Unsupervised Log-based Anomaly Detection
(View Poster / Read Extract)

Congratulations to all our 2019 HPCC Systems Poster Competition participants for sharing their achievements with our open source community. The posters were displayed throughout our Community Day Summit, giving everyone the opportunity to meet the students and find out more about their project and usage of the HPCC Systems platform. We have received many comments about the wonderful work they showcased at this event.

On behalf of the team, thank you to all the students for their valuable contributions to the HPCC Systems open source community and Academic Program in 2019.

Academic Meet and Greet Event

Immediately, after the judging has been completed, we open the doors to the eager crowd outside waiting for the opportunity to browse the posters and talk to the students. For me, this a particularly heart warming event. It brings together the students, their professors, HPCC Systems mentors and colleagues, some of whom have never met in person before and others who have worked together in previous years.

Farah Alshanik, Clemson University, completed her second internship with HPCC Systems in 2019 and Kevin Wilmoth has been her mentor on both occasions.

farah Alshanik and Kevin Wilmoth

                                                                           Farah Alshanik with her HPCC Systems mentor Kevin Wilmoth

While, the students located in other countries were not able to attend this event, their posters were on display and the HPCC Systems mentors arrived to look at the poster completed by the student they had worked with throughout the summer. They were also able to ‘stand in’ for the students and talk about the project with those showing an interest in the work completed.

Roger Dev with Akshar Prasad's 2019 Poster

Akshar Prasad’s poster with his HPCC Systems mentor Roger Dev

Dan Camper with Sathvik K R's poster

Sathvik K R’s poster with his HPCC Systems mentor Dan Camper

Posters by students from Brazil

Ken Foglia (left) Claudio Amaral (centre) and David Wheelock from the LexisNexis Risk solutions Brazil team
proudly showing the posters entered by the students located in Brazil

Bob Foreman and Richard Chapman with Muiredach O'Riain's poster

Bob Foreman and Richard Chapman, mentors to Muiredach O’Riain, standing alongside his poster

Academics were out in force supporting their students…

Below Dr Amy Apon, Professor at the School of Computing at Clemson University (centre) with Yash Mishra poster presenter (left), Michael Payne alumnus and now a LexisNexis Risk Solutions colleague (second left), Farah Alshanik poster presenter for the second year running (second right) and Lili Xu alumna, 3 times HPCC Systems intern and poster presenter and now a LexisNexis Risk Solutions colleague (right).

Amy Apon and the Clemson Team

Dr Taghi Khoshgoftaar arrived to support Robert Kennedy, who completed his second internship with us this year. Dr Khoshgoftaar is the Motorola Professor, Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Florida Atlantic University. Below he is shown with Robert Kennedy (left) and Flavio Villanustre, VP Technology and CISO, LexisNexis Risk Solutions (centre).

Taghi Khoshgoftaar ad Robert Kennedy

Dr Vincent Freeh, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Programs & Associate Professor at North Carolina State University, shown below (right) with Christopher Connolly (left), who was working on the Athletics 360 project run by Dr Freeh.

Christopher Connolly and Dr Vincent Freeh

The robotics team with which Jack Fields (second right) is involved, is run by Taiowa Donovan, Robotics Program Director, American Heritage School (right). David de Hilster, Consulting Software Engineer, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, is a longstanding supporter of this program (left).

Jack Fields, Tai Donovan and David de Hilster

The Kennesaw State University (KSU) team arrived to support Vannel Zeufack (second right). Dawn Tatum (right) has many roles at KSU including industry liaison, and academic intern co-ordinator as well as being a lecturer of information technology. Dr Donghyun (David) Kim, Associate Professor Department of Computer Science College of Computing and Software Engineering (second left). Also shown below, Dr Meng Han, Assistant Professor in the College of Computing and Software Engineering (left). Trish McCall Director, Program Management, LexisNexis Risk Solutions and alumna of KSU joins the team below (centre).

KSU Team Supporting Vannel Zeufack

Dr Meng Han, Assistant Professor in the College of Computing and Software Engineering, KSU (right), also shown below with the poster presenter he mentored in 2019, Huafu Hu from Georgia State University (left).

Huafu Hu and Dr Meng Han

Our meet and greet event rounded off a very successful day and took us full swing into the Community Day welcome dinner, where we celebrated the 20th birthday of the HPCC Systems platform.

Happy Birthday HPCC Systems!

HPCC Systems 20th Birthday Cake

Additional resources

  1. Are you interested in being an HPCC Systems intern? Read our blog to find out about the program and how to apply.
  2. Find out more about the interns that joined our program in 2019
  3. Browse the posters and abstracts from our 2019 poster competition.
  4. Browse posters from contests held in previous years.
  5. Find out more about the HPCC Systems Academic Program.
  6. Are you currently working on an HPCC Systems related project? Contact us and tell us about it.
  7. Do you have a project idea that leverages HPCC Systems in some way? Contact us and tell us about it.