CodeYourFuture Hackathon

By Vanessa Lenormand

Several Data and Tech graduates at EDF organised a Data Science hackathon for the students of CodeYourFuture: a charity that offers free, high-quality web development courses to refugees and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. We hope to use the knowledge that we have gained through our experiences at EDF to help remove barriers for those that did not have the same opportunities that we did.

The Preparation

Together, with all the graduates combined, we decided which parts of the training we should cover. To prepare for the hackathon we split into four groups to split up the work:

  • Introduction to Python: a crash course in Python - including topics such as functions, loops, data types, list comprehensions, etc.
  • Data: an introduction to data manipulation, cleaning and visualisation in Python - including packages such as Pandas, Numpy, Matplotlib and Seaborn.
  • Hackathon and Machine Learning planning: a course in finding a fit-for-purpose data set, posing a problem, building a simple machine learning model, etc.
  • Logistics, Environment and Infrastructure: support in setting up the environment to be used by the students and provisioning the resources in Amazon Web Services (AWS).

It is worth giving a special mention to the infrastructure and environment team, who delivered a fully functioning platform on AWS for the CodeYourFuture students to use to learn Python. It is because of their efforts outside of work that every student had access to a Jupyter Notebook cloud environment.

The Event

The day started off with an introduction to the field of Data Science by the team. We then introduced the students to the platform (Jupyter Notebooks) and to the Python programming language through a series of interactive exercises that covered everything from simple decision-making statements to the creation of functions and modules. In the afternoon, the students learnt how to use Pandas for data cleaning and wrangling, and data visualisation in Seaborn as a tool for exploratory analysis. Finally, the day concluded with an introduction to machine learning and a short hackathon in which the students had an opportunity to apply everything they had learnt throughout the day towards building a simple machine learning model.

Conclusion

The event was a huge success. The feedback from the trainees has been incredibly positive: they have learnt a lot, they couldn’t believe it was the first time we ran it, and it was great to see so many of them really interested in pursuing careers in data.

”The volunteers were amazing and full of passion for what they do, I wish them nothing but the best! It was a wonderful day”

At the end of the event, we shared job opportunities and some participants applied.

One of the graduates, Clementine Whitcomb, is now volunteering every week; another graduate, Adrian Causby, wrote an article on the 5 steps to creating a data science hackathon notebook - be sure to give this a read!

A massive thank you to all the grads involved for their dedication and hard work in the lead up to and during this event, who presented their sessions in a very clear, professional and engaging manner as well as creating a cloud based environment for participants to work on during the days without having Python installed locally. 

I’m so grateful to work for a company like EDF who gives us the opportunity to volunteer our time to help the community in ways such as this, using our technical training and knowledge for good causes, as well as our day to day tasks and projects. We were all truly grateful to have been a part of the event and help pass on knowledge, technical skills and spread awareness about Data Science to the wider community. We are looking forward to running more events like this in the future.

 

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