The Black Employee Affinity Group’s (BEAG) Technology Day aligns to EMC’s strategic goal of providing STEM education to under-represented groups. This year EMC BEAG hosted around 70 middle school students from the Sullivan Middle School and received volunteer help from over 26 EMC employees. With the help from EMC’s Corporate Community Involvement department, we were able to successfully deliver a fun packed agenda that explored the fascinating world of Big Data and the Power of Data Analytics.
While Big Data is at the forefront of IT transformation, it is often considered a buzzword that may be considered intangible when trying to explain its relevance to a group of middle school students. However, EMC executive speakers Carolyn Muise, Tom Clancy and Beth Cliff used examples of how we leverage the volume, variety, velocity and the value of Big Data every day to make decisions, such as:
- The way sports agents leverage statistics on athletes (i.e. number of touchdowns, running yards, speed, etc.) during the NFL draft
- The use of academic data (SAT, GPA, etc.) by colleges for recruiting
- The volume of demographic data captured in social media sites like Instagram and Facebook
All of the above examples made the concept of Big Data and the power of data analytics tangible to the middle school students.
A panel discussion led by Glen Arnold showcased EMC Subject Matter Experts with STEM careers and academic backgrounds. The students were able to ask the panelists all sorts of questions about their academics, their careers at EMC and how they overcame challenges.
Being a Data Scientist myself, my favorite part of the day was a hands-on Big Data workshop that used Legos to familiarize the students with cluster analysis, a statistical technique used to categorize data. There were other interactive activities throughout the day such as a tour through EMC’s Franklin Manufacturing site; a telepresence session with Bill Schmarzo (EMC’s Dean of Big Data); and a dialogue with BEAG’s West Coast Chapter members John Coleman and Ron Dixon.
A similar Technology Day event was held in North Carolina with around 40 students from the Pre-Eminent Charter School. The students received an overview of EMC, a plant tour, and the opportunity to participate in a Big Data workshop.
Both BEAG events received positive feedback from the teachers, volunteers, executive speakers – and most importantly the students.