The MU College of Engineering's Computer Science Department brought back its Big Data Analytics Summer Program in July after a successful debut a year ago, expanding both the program’s enrollment numbers and its scope.
Yi Shang, professor of computer science and head instructor for the program, said enrollment was up for this year’s program, which ran from July 6 to July 24. A total of 20 students participated this year, up from 14 last year. Two of the students are current MU students, while 18 are international students. Seven of the international students hailed from Hong Kong, while 11 more came from China.
Jonathan So, an undergraduate computer science student at City University of Hong Kong, said he came to MU for the course because he wanted the experience of studying abroad.
“We have different paths in computer science, and actually my path isn’t related to any data things,” So said. “I saw the email and figured I haven’t been to any exchange program before. My final year project has a lot of workload, but I found I had one month to come here and learn computer science-related stuff.”
The initial program centered on morning lectures and afternoon lab sessions dealing mainly with developing skills in MapReduce, which helps process Big Data-sized sets, and programs affiliated with MapReduce. Lessons on MapReduce remained this year, and the program also incorporated the open-source framework Hadoop, its companion warehousing tool Hive and companion big data store HBASE. The three-week event also incorporated scalable machine learning library Mahout and the framework Spark.
Students additionally were required to complete a final project and to present on the last day of class. Throughout the program, students went on sightseeing trips, including sojourns to St. Louis, Meramec Caverns, Jefferson City and Hannibal.
The program attracted its share of computer science-oriented students, but it also held appeal for people from other fields. Yanping Yao currently is a graduate student studying traditional Chinese medicine at MU, and the course appealed to her because of the high amount of data created by various medical disciplines.
“We use Big Data to analyze our patients,” Yao said. “Eventually, we get to the point where there’s so much data from just one patient, and we need to analyze this, and Big Data is helpful for us.
“I think Dr. Shang has taught us basic computer science and knowledge of computer science, and the teaching assistants have helped us with programming and doing what we learned in the morning. Practicing is very important for me to learn something, and I think they taught it very well.”