Giving Data Science the boot (camp)

Aishah Selamat, one of our Data Impact Fellows, took part in a data science boot camp earlier this year. Here we ask her to look back on it and tell us how it has benefited her and impacted her research.


What was the purpose of the boot camp?

The main purpose of the S2DS data science boot camp was to tackle commercial data science problems with real-life companies here in the United Kingdom. It was a five-week intensive and full-time programme where around ninety fellows from around the world gathered together in London.

The outcome of the programme will have a real impact on the companies’ live products and services.


Why did you decide to apply for and take part in it?

I decided to take part for the boot camp to enhance my theoretical learning and to have first-hand experience of what it is like to work on a commercial data science problem.

Participation in this programme will also have an impact and influence on my PhD research in which I am developing an Intelligent Transportation Analytical Model for SMEs in the private coach industry.

Some key questions that I was seeking from the data science programme included learning about:

  • different data science techniques applied in businesses
  • emerging news and updates from this field
  • current companies’ thoughts and concerns about the field of data science

The experience I gathered through taking part in the S2DS programme will shape my approach to my PhD, further scaling the project’s research impact.


How long did the boot camp run for and how were the days structured?

For five weeks, the boot camp was packed with back-to-back theoretical and practical session. On top of this, there were meetings with:

  • the team
  • company mentors
  • technical mentors
  • the mentor from Pivigo (who organised the boot camp).

During the first two weeks of the boot camp were filled with full-day theoretical and hands-on sessions in the compound forum. For the last three weeks we broke out into individual groups to work on the team’s commercial data science problem. On several weekday evenings there were external talks organised by Pivigo.

At the weekends we are left to break for social activities. Some teams were so keen they continued to work on their project.


What did you feel you gained from the boot camp?

Five weeks of boot camp was not only a real test of endurance, there was the challenge of working on a project with a tight deadline with a team you had just met! It was also an eye-opening experience for me personally.

First and foremost, I learnt that thriving and succeeding in the data science field is not entirely based on one’s hard (technical) skills, but also:

  • the need to master key soft skills like empathy
  • the art of communication
  • the spirit of teamwork is equally important.

The role of a Data Scientist is not only to dabble and find unique insights from the ‘messy’ data but also, to communicate the value of these data insights to internal and external clients in the simplest of terms.

Secondly, from the boot camp I began to like coding with Python. I soon learnt that if one is ever ‘stuck’ in any coding situation, Google and Stack Overflow are great reference points. One of my post-boot camp goals is to spend more time in levelling up my python skills after the completion of my PhD thesis!

Thirdly, during the boot camp I met and networked with so many brilliant fellows from amazing backgrounds and with diverse goals.

Here is one of our dinner sessions at a Persian Restaurant:

Last but not least, my new-found comrades Aaron and Isabel introduced me ‘Crossfit’, which is a high-intensive interval workout guided by a coach.

Here is a group of us after a Crossfit session.


How do you feel what you experienced at the boot camp will benefit your research and career?

The boot camp has definitely impacted on the analytical model that I am developing.

Career wise, I am looking to set myself up dealing with data in the United Kingdom.

Aishah Selamat is one of our UK Data Service Data Impact Fellows.

Aishah is a PhD student with the Faculty of Science and Technology at Bournemouth University. Her PhD research is co-funded by Bournemouth University and County Coaches (UK) LLP (a company of Aishah’s research aims to develop an Intelligent Transportation Analytical Model for SMEs.

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