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Two-week festival next year

DataFest signs up digital experts for extended event

Sue Black

Sue Black: digital skills expert


Debbie Bard
Debbie Bard
Mine Cetinkaya-Rundel
Mine Cetinkaya-Rundel

Three senior figures in the data science sector have been confirmed as speakers at an extended DataFest in Edinburgh next year.

DataFest19 will be the UK’s first two-week festival of data innovation and will be addressed by Dr Sue Black, Professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist at Durham University.

She is a digital skills expert, social entrepreneur, and experienced international speaker. She holds a computer science PhD with more than 20 years technology and digital skills teaching experience.

Debbie Bard is an expert in machine learning at scale and data-intensive computing for experimental science, who gained her PhD at Edinburgh University.

Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel is is associate Professor of the Practice, Duke University, and Data Scientist and Professional Educator at RStudio. Her work focuses on innovation in statistics and data science pedagogy, with an emphasis on computation, reproducible research, student-centred learning, and open-source education.

The theme for DataFest 19, opening on 21 March, will be collaboration. 

Gillian Docherty, chief executive for The Data Lab, said: “With only 100 days to go, excitement is beginning to build ahead of what promises to be a fantastic fortnight of exciting events across the country.

“We’re thrilled to announce speakers of the calibre of Sue, Debbie and Mine for DataSummit and DataTech. I’m sure they’ll prove to be extremely popular and we’re thrilled to have them on board. We look forward to announcing more exciting contributors and speakers.

“The data sector is on the rise in Scotland and the success of DataFest 18, and the interest we have received to date for DataFest 19, underlines this. By focusing on collaboration, we plan to showcase the many occasions where people have worked together to create ways to use data for good.”

The extended DataFest 19 follows on from the success of DataFest 18, which saw in excess of 3,000 participants, and over 45 events, including hackathons, networking and inspiring workshop sessions for school pupils stretching from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Inverness, Dundee, and Aberdeen.

The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh will host Data Summit, which sits at the fore of the DataFest programme which showcases compelling stories on data-driven innovation with keynotes, panels, and pitches. 

The festival has been extended to two weeks for the first time to take account of the huge interest in the Data Fest Fringe Events programme around the country which is expected to be bigger than ever before, which include meetups, hackathons, debates, public engagement, and Data Science training programmes.

DataFest 19 will also see the return of Data Talent, the annual collider event that brings together aspiring data science and engineering students with employers from across the country.

Women in Data Science also returns. It is part of the world-wide Women in Data Science initiative by Stanford University. It brings together women data scientists and school girls to showcase what a data career looks like and inspire the female data leaders of the future.

For DataFest 19 it will be run by Turing Testers, a group of three sixth-year students at St Kentigern’s Academy in Bathgate who recently won ‘Outstanding Cyber Team’ at the 2018 Scottish Cyber Awards.

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