HPCC Systems Academic Program – Big Data Analytics Learning Opportunities

The HPCC Systems team has been collaborating with Kennesaw State University as part of our Academic Program outreach since 2015. Over the years, our relationship with the KSU College of Computing and Software Engineering has involved sharing our Big Data knowledge and experience to support their curriculum as well as providing practical experiences for students, including:

  • Presentations to students by LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group colleagues about using HPCC Systems to solve big data analytics problems in industry and for social good
  • Workshops designed to provide practical experience of using a big data analytics platform including learning the ECL language, which was designed specifically for creating queries into big data
  • Hackathons which provide an intensive and immersive coding experience, giving students the opportunity to devise a solution from the ground up for a given problem. We have been supporting the KSU CCSE Hackathon program since 2017. Find out more about the most recent Hackathon for Social Good held in March 2021.

KSU also has a lab in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering which provides space for students to work on data science projects together. The HPCC Systems CSE Lab was setup in 2015 and we are proud sponsors of this space, using it to hosted the teams completing our big data challenge at the first KSU CCSE Hackathon in 2017. Also in 2017, KSU launched a Certification in High Performance Cluster Computing using HPCC Systems. We were delighted to contribute to the design of the course content which helps students develop skills and experience in a number of areas including database systems, data warehousing and mining, modern programming languages (R, Python and ECL), computer architecture including the cloud and more.

We have also supported individual students directly, contributing to a scholarship program over a three year period starting in 2017. We also welcome students from KSU on to the HPCC Systems Intern Program to complete projects that contribute to our open source platform and machine learning library. See the work of Vannel Zeufack and Everett Matthew Upchurch Butler. 

Big Data Analytics – Building a Bridge Between Academic Study and Industry

The newest addition to our longstanding commitment of support to the KSU CCSE department is a big data analytics and HPCC Systems course, delivered as a special topic in the Spring of 2021. There were 16 students in the class representing a number of different majors including Computer Science, Software Engineering and Information Technology. Many of the students were not familiar with big data analytics, so the course started with learning about big data terminology and concepts, such as:

Students were given the opportunity to work with real world datasets such as COVID-19 and avaition pre-scheduled flights.

As well as the course teaching from Bahar Fardanian (Technology Evangelist), other LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group colleagues also shared their expertise in big data analytics, giving students valuable insights into big data issues and experiences. 

The learning outcomes of this course were to provide students with the skills needed to be able to demonstrate:

  • Familiarity with big data concepts and processes
  • Understanding of data analysis and how to handle big data
  • Knowledge of the basics of machine learning

Bahar Fardanian provided lots of sample ECL code and the students were given plenty of opportunities to get hands on coding experience in class, as well as assignments and projects. During the class work, they covered areas such as data cleaning, transformation, enrichment and append. Students login to a CloudIDE cluster (Watch a Video / Register and Take a Look) providing them with the means to create and execute ECL code on an HPCC Systems cluster. The final project involved collaborating with Cirium to analyse the impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry, by comparing scheduled flights from 2019 and 2020. A final examination completed the course.

    Students were asked to complete a survey reviewing the course and it is clear they enjoyed the course and learned a lot.

    Here are some of the responses:

    “…the class was a good experience. Even though I’m not a CS major and had concerns at the beginning about how I would do I appreciate your help and skills …”   “I really enjoyed this class. This is because we used real-world examples to solve problems rather than…theoretical problems which is valuable information for the workforce.”   “Thank you, truly, for a wonderful semester! … Your class…benefited me somewhat! I recently got a position at a Data Solutions company…”

    The HPCC Systems Academic Program is focused on bridging the gap between academic study and helping students to apply that knowledge in an industry setting. There are a lot of talented upcoming developers and data scientists out there, who are honing their skills while they study.

    But it is not just about being interested and curious about big data, although that is a great start. It’s also important to understand the concepts involved and acquire skills which take things to the next level, by solving real world problems in a meaningful way. This course gives students a secure foundation they can use to extend their knowledge and pursue a career in big data analytics.

    Bahar Fardanian, Technology Evangelist, LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group

    Bahar Fardanian, Technology Evangelist, LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group

    Bahar designed this course based on her knowledge and experience of delivering workshops in an academic setting over a number of years. The course content and training material bring together the world of academic study and the requirements of big data analytics in the wider world for university professors and their students.

    This course can be made available to other universities and portions of it are being used to deliver a similar course to the RV College of Engineering in India, another of our longstanding Academic Partners.


    HPCC Systems is Celebrating 10 Years as an Open Source Big Data Analytics Platform

    Join us as we mark this anniversary event with users, colleagues, ambassadors and collaborators via a series of video podcasts. It’s great to reflect on how we got to where we are today with the stories shared in this series and look forward to what may lie ahead in the future. View the full list of podcasts on our 10 Year Anniversary Podcast Series Wiki.

    Featured Podcast

    Click on the image below to join Flavio Villanustre (VP Technology and CISO, LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group) and Bahar Fardanian (Technology Evangelist, LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group). Find out how Bahar became involved with HPCC Systems, which will be an inspiration to everyone but particularly students who have their sights set on pursuing a career in the big data industry.

    Bahar is one of our key ambassadors and is heavily involved with providing different types of learning opportunities for students including workshops, Hackathons, courses and presentations, all using the ECL language and the HPCC System Open Source platform.

    Clickable image showing the YouTube Interview with Bahar Fardanian