Taking Part in Big Data Africa 23
Below are comments on the experience and impact of Big Data Africa 23 from some of those who took part.
Joel Sabiti from Uganda
If anything Big Data Africa gave me clarity on my career. Being a computer engineer and now mastering in health informatics, I did not have a grounding in data science and machine learning. The school gave me a platform to build my interest, confidence and a starting point for machine learning. I have been able to identify my niche in healthcare and have built a collaboration with a few of the other participants and we are now working collaboratively since we returned. I am proud to say we have learnt more since we left than we knew before the school. Above all, we have been able to keep up with one of our mentors that has been guiding us whenever we get stuck. For me, the school was probably the turning point of my career. I have appreciated data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence in healthcare. I was able to see the bigger picture of its application in healthcare. Everything in the school was quite frankly, a whole new experience. The presentations from the teams were jaw dropping for me, but above all, it was the 2D to 3D presentation that I learned the most from. Maziko Mphepo, Isaac Bua and I are now actively working together, we decided to go on Kaggle as the school challenged us a lot and we decided to grow exponentially after that experience. We have daily tasks we are supposed to achieve and we share both achievements and challenges using project management software. In addition, we planned to have hackathons bi-weekly and we are currently preparing for our next one. So, we have really grown and the collaboration has increased our interest in learning. I am so glad that I attended.
Ny Ando Ralitera from Madagascar (a previous participant in DARA Basic Training)
By attending the Big Data Africa School I had the opportunity to acquire practical experience in big data. I gained knowledge in medical imaging and the latest tools and techniques used in the field of AI, particularly deep learning. The best thing about taking part was being in a group where I where I could express myself, advise some members of my team and make contributions in order to move the project forward. Collaborating with individuals hailing from diverse regions across the African continent during my participation in the Big Data Africa School was an incredibly enriching experience. I had the pleasure of working alongside talented colleagues hailing from various countries such as South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Kenya, who brought with them diverse perspectives and experiences. As a result of this experience, I intend to maintain relationships with the individuals I met during the program and actively seek potential opportunities to collaborate with them in future projects, based on their exceptional skills and the positive rapport we established. As a grateful participant of the Big Data Africa School, I can say that it is valuable for individuals looking to gain practical experience and knowledge in big data and related technologies. The programme offers participants the opportunity to learn from experienced instructors, work on real-world projects, and collaborate with individuals from diverse backgrounds. The program's emphasis on addressing the unique challenges and opportunities related to big data in the African context makes it an important initiative for driving innovation and growth across the continent. I wish to express my appreciation to the organizers, partners, lecturers, mentors and fellow participants for providing me with an exceptional learning experience.
Tatenda Charumbira from Zimbabwe
Big Data Africa will have a positive impact on my career by providing practical experience and exposure to the latest tools and technologies used in data science. It helped me to acquire valuable skills in biomedical imaging that can be applied much more widely in the healthcare industry. Additionally it has helped me to build a professional network and gain access to various job opportunities or internships in their field. Overall it has added to my resume and gives me a unique edge in a competitive job market. It has always been my pleasure to work with real world data to solve problems which are common in the African continent and gain knowledge in deep learning methods used in different sectors. I had previously been always nervous about standing in front of people and presenting; an understanding l got from Big Data Africa was that I'm the best person to explain my project and I know it better than anyone else which gave me a lot of confidence to explain what l was doing. It was my first time attending a DARA event and l benefited a lot from finding out about deep learning models that can be used in the health sector as well as methods to improve the models. Big Data Africa is a great event which helped me and will help others in the future to acquire knowledge about machine learning and Big Data as a whole.
Maziko Mphepo from Malawi
The best thing about taking part in the Big Data Africa School was getting to connect with diverse professionals at different levels in their career. It made the experience more fulfilling as it offered inspiration to keep on moving forward. Each participant offered a new perspective and something different which facilitated an enabling learning environment. Having participated in the program, I have developed a renewed interest in implementing AI systems in medical diagnostics. The program has given me a much needed appreciation for developing robust models that can be used in a clinical setting while ensuring that the models are trustworthy by incorporating explainability. This will impact my career greatly as I plan to venture into an entrepreneurial journey where I develop digital medical diagnostics systems powered by AI. The program has taught me how algorithmic vigilance improves acceptability which will be an advantage in my entrepreneurial journey. The most surprising thing was how 3D reconstruction can potentially replace CT scan machines which have been considered the gold standard in radiology for a long time. This was my first DARA event and it was remarkable. I enjoyed working with people from across the African continent and everyone was friendly and willing to interact and share their knowledge. I plan to keep in touch with the different participants and at the moment I am actively working with one of the participants in order to perfect our data analysis tools. Overall, I enjoyed being part of the program and it is truly amazing to be part of the community.
Mosima Masethe from South Africa
I wanted to learn how to mine medical images in Machine Learning. I am a Computer Science student, my career is strongly in coding and writing SQL scripts as well as cyber security. I have never had an opportunity to learn about medical terminology and how ML tools can help health practitioners to do their work more efficiently, even when they have limited resources. I am now continuing to learn about medical challenges and to explore more solutions with AI or ML algorithms, I have also learned that 3D is a new and growing technology. I am planning to supervise Masters and PhD students in the near future to pursue more research in this biomedical field, because I am a junior academic in health sciences at a university. My team was very dedicated and full of amazing characters, we learned a lot from one another in a short space of time. That was my first time attending a DARA event and it was so educational and socialising too. I enjoyed it so much, I actually have realised how talented my African people are. There was so much knowledge sharing, collaboration was very easy and good. Thanks to all our sponsors, we couldn't be who we are today without such opportunities to learn and grow, it has been a privilege. I wish many more students could get such an amazing opportunity.
Isaac Bua from Uganda
Team work and networking was the best thing about taking part in Big Data Africa. It was a great pleasure and experience for me to work with different people with different backgrounds and also the project tutors were amazing, knowledgeable and gave me a chance to learn a lot. I have always been interested in learning more about data science since it has got so many applications in my career, being part of BDA has given me problem solving skills and I also got a chance to learn practical skills motivating me to study more in data science. My team worked on explainable AI tools; this was something that I had never been conscious about, but being part of that team gave me a chance to learn how to apply these tools in ML models. The most amazing thing during the school for me was meeting and working with people from different countries across Africa, and I am still in touch with most of them to use our new knowledge to solve an engineering problem. BDA was well organised and I would like to thank the organisers, the funders and all of the tutors who took part in lecturing during the event. I am so glad to have been part of this event and part of this diverse family of happy people.
Nouhaila Innan from Morroco
I'm very thankful for the opportunity to participate in Big Data Africa. The experience was truly exceptional and one that I will cherish for a lifetime. The school provided a comprehensive and immersive learning experience that exceeded my expectations in every aspect. The fundamental data science tools and techniques taught were practical, relevant and up-to-date with the latest industry standards. The hands-on experience of working with real-life data sets in healthcare was incredibly enriching and insightful. In addition to the outstanding academic program, the school provided ample opportunities for networking and cultural exchange. I met many talented individuals from diverse backgrounds, and the experience of collaborating with them and exchanging ideas with them was enlightening and inspiring. I can confidently say that attending this school was a truly transformative experience. The skills and knowledge that I acquired during the program will serve me well in my future endeavours. I appreciate the chance to participate in such a fantastic initiative. Once again, I sincerely thank the entire team for organising and delivering this school. I'm eager to stay connected and to contribute to Africa's broader machine learning and data science communities.
Assala Benmalek from Algeria
One of the most enriching aspects of my Big Data Africa experience was the opportunity to network and communicate with others. This facilitated introductions to fellow participants, mentors and speakers, which in turn produced invaluable feedback, clarity regarding future plans and goals, and awareness of additional opportunities. It was particularly meaningful for me to interact, discuss, and collaborate with individuals from various areas of the continent. This demonstrated that diversity does not impede young people from working together towards a common goal – in this case, fostering innovation for Africa. Indeed, harnessing the power of a multicultural cohort served to strengthen our collective capacity to effect positive change in our respective communities. After seeing the project presentations from the other teams I was pleasantly surprised by the various applications of deep learning and machine learning techniques in medical subjects. It was especially interesting to see the teams work with real data, which I believe will have a significant impact on the African health ecosystem. Additionally, I learned about the importance of data science in the radio astronomy field and how it can contribute to the development of this industry in Africa. This experience opened my eyes to the great diversity of our continent and the immense impact that can be made when we all work together towards a common goal. I have always believed that diversity is not an obstacle and that people from different backgrounds can come together to innovate and make the world a better place. This experience has reinforced this belief for me, and I am excited to continue to be a part of it. I would like to thank the organizers for creating this opportunity for us. As a North African and Arab student I was very thrilled to communicate and work with diverse students and learn from their experiences.
Felicia Mavie from Mozambique (previous participant in DARA Basic Training and the 2021 DARA Big Data Mozambique hackathon)
The best thing about taking part in Big Data Africa was being able to share and, above all, to learn new things related to the evolution of research tools that can help me to grow scientifically and professionally. I was able to learn and develop skills and knowledge that will allow me to work with extremely large datasets in any research environment and in particular in the field of health, which is my goal. I believe that participation in Big Data Africa will have a great influence on future opportunities such as a Masters degree due to the impact of the projects and the syllabus offered in the course. I had no idea how important or necessary knowledge of Artificial Intelligence was, but I can say that I was very surprised at how easy it was for us to work and live together for a week as if we already knew each other. Having people from different cultures and different academic levels treating each other in the same way was fantastic. I still have good contact with my entire work group and some of the other groups that we had a lot of affinity with, we help each other by sharing new study opportunities or even summer schools, creating a good network. Thank you for creating these opportunities and allowing us to learn and acquire experiences that serve to leverage us and help us grow academically, professionally and above all socially. I have participated in previous DARA programmes and it’s like being given a master key to gain access to a community of scientists and aspiring scientists in Africa, who all share the same dream and the same goals; learning more, sharing knowledge about science and being able to help our home countries and hopefully the continent someday with the tools acquired in the learning process.
Laurinda Macaringue from Mozambique (previous participant in DARA Basic Training and the 2021 DARA Big Data Mozambique hackathon)
During Big Data Africa, what I liked the most was learning new Machine Learning and Deep Learning techniques that were taught in an accessible and easy-to-understand way. It was very rewarding to work on a practical project with real-world applicability and to use Artificial Intelligence to find solutions. Additionally, the opportunity to meet and interact with colleagues from different backgrounds was very enriching, as we could learn from each other and exchange unique experiences. As a participant I believe that my career and studies will be positively impacted in several ways. First and foremost, I gained valuable hands-on experience with real-world data sets and learned new techniques that are in high demand in today's job market. This will make me a more competitive candidate for jobs and Masters scholarship opportunities. And I believe that participating has equipped me with valuable skills and knowledge that will help me to achieve my study goals and make a positive impact in my career. The most surprising thing I learned was how extensively ML and DL techniques can be applied to solve real-world problems and how computer vision can be coupled with ML. Big Data Africa and my previous participation in DARA events have benefited me greatly by providing me with hands-on experience in applying ML and other technologies to real-world problems. I have had the opportunity to interact with people from different countries in Africa, and it was a great experience to learn about their cultures and work styles. And I intend to keep in touch with them to carry out future projects. Big Data Africa was a great experience.