Here at YYC Data Society, we have an insatiable curiosity whenever a new data-focused community group starts to gain momentum. And when that group has a connection with our own, our excitement multiplies by a factor of ten. So, are we “10X” excited about a new group popping up currently? The answer is yes folks. We’re excited to introduce you to Edmonton Data Science Community.
The vision for the group is quite simple. An established data science meetup group in Edmonton is essential to match the city's growing prominence in the field. With the University of Alberta at the forefront of AI and machine learning research, Edmonton boasts a robust academic environment that attracts top talent and fosters innovation. Additionally, the emergence of data-driven industries in the city means there's a burgeoning demand for skilled data scientists (to attract and maintain them). The goal is for the data community to serve as a vital platform for knowledge sharing, networking, and collaboration among professionals, students, researchers, and enthusiasts in the data science community.
The idea for YEG was born in 2016, courtesy of Marcin Mizianty, VP of Data Science at AltaML. The data meetup started in association with Startup Edmonton. Gaining momentum and securing sponsorship from AltaML, the group faced a hurdle when the pandemic forced them to go virtual and then dormant. It turns out that meetup groups don't quite thrive over Zoom. However, in early 2023, several individuals, who would later become the founding members of this revived iteration, shared a common desire to resurrect a data science meetup group and build the data community in Edmonton. Initially, two key players, Paul Saunders, a Computer Science Master's student at UofA, and Thiago Valentin, a Data Scientist at Helcim, embarked on the journey independently (unbeknownst to each other) to reboot the group or create something similar. Paul eventually reconnected with Marcin, who eagerly jumped back on board, along with Jenny Lien, Manager of Data Science at AltaML. Together, this dynamic group breathed new life into the project. In the summer of 2023, withthe formal inclusion of Thiago as a co-organizer and the addition of Talat Syed, Project Manager at AltaML, the stage was set for the first 'kickoff 2.0' event this past September, which was an overwhelming success.
Our partnership with YEG Data began at an early stage. The group initially sought our advice on event organization and group development. More recently, Jenny Lien assumed the role of VP at YYC Data Society, further solidifying our connection, while Thiago Valentin joined the team of organizers for YYC Data Con 2024. Even in its infancy, the foundations are laid for continued collaboration between our groups.
So what's next for YEG? Building off their first event, the plan initially will be for smaller and more frequent meetups, ranging in topics from data ethics to predictive analytics. While the organizers continue to look for sponsorship and alternative venues to host their meetups aside from AltaML’s HQ where the first event was held. The future looks incredibly promising for the data enthusiasts of Edmonton, and the data community is set to play a pivotal role in this continued growth.