The second Data Science Nigeria boot camp, organized by the Data Science Network Foundation (Data Science Nigeria website), is an impactful and a remarkable event in the history of Nigeria. It took place in a superb ambiance environment, at the Lekki Pennisula Resort, Lagos.
The event was flagged off with the first industry-lead summit on big data. Participants were firstly exposed to the prospects and the unlimited opportunities in the field of data science through series of lectures and panel discussions by industry experts. Among the speakers and panellist includes: Uzoma Dozie, CEO Diamond bank, Dr Yemi Kale, Statistician general of the federation, James Agada, CEO CWG, Olumide Olayinka, KPMG, Ngozi Dozie, Director OneFi, Babafemi Ogungbamila, CIO Interswitch, Emeka Okoye, CEO Cymantiks.
The convener and founder of the Data Science Network Foundation, Bayo Adekanbi, who has international exposure on best practices in the field of data science, saw the need for Nigeria to take advantage of the data revolution and position her to access at least 1% share of the global big data and analytics market, valued at $150b in 2017 ($203b in 2020).
This vision fostered the lunch of Data Science Nigeria boot camp, a practitioner-led model where experienced data scientists in Nigeria and in Diaspora train and mentor young Nigerians through a project-based boot camp.
The pre-qualification exercise for the Data Science Nigeria boot camp was quite challenging but the whole learning experience was a major leap for me in developing expertise in the field of data science. The prerequisite for entering the boot camp was to complete a six-week intensive course on Datacamp and Edx, with an appreciable score. The last phase of the pre-qualification exercise was a five-day rigorous competition on Kaggle, an online platform for predictive modelling and analytics competitions. Only the top one hundred competitors were eligible for the boot camp.
You may also like: Understanding Nigeria’s fast growing technology startup ecosystem
Most remarkable was the experience of applying what we learnt in solving social and business problems relating to Nigerian context. This has fully armed me with the requisite skills needed to make sense out of data.
I came into the boot camp with no prior knowledge in machine Learning or Big data analysis, but after the boot camp, I was able to perform predictive analysis. I also learnt how to effectively deploy these tools and technologies in solving real-life data problems. This is pivotal for me in building a successful career in the field of data science.
Data Science Nigeria boot camp provided me a networking platform to meet with other aspiring data scientist as well as data science practitioners from different industries including banking, insurance, telecoms, engineering, academia etc. This diversity of participants made the Data Science Nigeria boot camp an all-round inspiring programme.
I had a great mentorship and exposure from one of our top instructors, Corne Nagel, the Chief Data Scientist of Onefi, a fintech company that leverages extensively on Machine learning for granting micro loans. I find his guide and advice very valuable.
The Data Science Nigeria boot camp had a robust curriculum that covered a wide-range of data science topics in just four days. These includes fundamentals of data science, introduction to Machine learning Algorithms, advanced machine learning techniques, Machine Learning with Microsoft Azure, introduction to big data engineering.
Some of the projects I worked on during the boot camp includes:
- Predicting student performance using a data set called the Wazobia dataset.
- Provide descriptions and attributes of customer segments on a market research dataset from KPMG.
- Building an auto correct dictionary using Natural Language Processing.
- Mining and carrying out predictive analysis on the popular Housing dataset.
Data Science Nigeria boot camp did not only provide a platform for participants to develop expertise in Big data analytic and machine learning, it also encouraged participants to hone their skills in competitive Kaggle competitions. By participating in series of Kaggle competitions during the boot camp, I was able to measure my performance in model building and predictions. Participating in Kaggle competitions according to data science experts, is what stands-out a good data scientist from the pack.
There was high level of engagement from our facilitators. All our instructors were readily available to attend to every question pose by the participants even during lunch hours. They also ensured that the learning experience was fun and everyone carried along irrespective of the expertise level.
I was particularly impressed with one of the facilitators from South Africa, Dr Suleiman. His grasp and in-depth knowledge of the subject matter as well as the passion he shows delivering those lectures were noteworthy.
In a nutshell, the Data Science Nigeria boot camp has transformed me from not knowing where and how to kick-start my career in the field of data science, to being able to build my own predictive models and deploy same in real-life projects.
The Data Science Nigeria boot camp is no doubt a great platform for anyone looking to kick-start a career in data science. The learning and exposure I had during the boot gave me a good understanding of how powerful data science can be applied in solving problems.
It’s easy to pick up a course on data science on online learning platforms but tough to understand its application in real-life scenarios without the guide of an instructor/mentor. This is the luxury Data science Nigeria boot camp provided its participants.