It’s the end of the year in a few days. Just before I went out on holiday break I finished documenting my accomplishments for the past year. I actually like taking some time before the New Year to take stock – not just of my own work, but also of the broader landscape. A friend forwarded me this timely blog, “2013 was a lost year for tech” by Christopher Mims. His assessment of the tech industry is that it was a dud in 2013. Whether you believe things are really this bad or not, it’s still a pretty good wake up call for those of us in tech who want to continue to do amazing things with technology.
And with any wake up call, some sort of change on the part of companies and individuals alike is required. Change is a funny thing. It is hard, and the less you embrace it and the more you resist making the minor transitions in your work (or any part of your life), the harder it gets to make the really big, important changes.
I went to Chicago recently to visit family and had some time to catch up with my niece Stephanie Gizzi. She is a senior at Northern Illinois University. I interviewed her to see what it’s like for young women pursuing a STEM degree these days. Here is our conversation.
Stephanie, tell me about the degree program you are in.
I’m getting a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology – it’s an engineering-based science degree. I’m done with all of my calculus and physics, so I’m taking mostly meteorology courses now.
I am getting my GIS (Geographic Information Systems) certificate to differentiate myself from other meteorologists. I am using ArcMap to analyze geospatial data. I can compare all kinds of historic trends to today’s data and graph it. It’s really practical in business for analyzing growth zones for development, visualize population density trends and things like that. For example, Walgreen’s uses it to plan where to open retail stores.
Originally posted on Nov. 19, 2013 on intel.com
I attended the 2103 Grace Hopper Celebration, a women in computer conference with 4800 technical women participating. There I had the opportunity to attend a lively panel session on Big Data. After spending 2 seconds on the proliferation of data in our digitized world problem statement, the panelists launched right into a focused discussion on how big data analytics helps us unlock the value and gain insights. They acknowledged the hype, yet stressed the point that every company needs a core data competency, must be accountable to uphold security and privacy regulation and need to deliver better performance and tuning (users expect responses quickly).
The panel went on to discuss about career opportunities and the gaps businesses have right now in filling positions for qualified data scientists who have both the business acumen, programming and statistical knowledge necessary to unlock and visualize the data, so the business can make better decisions faster.