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Sol Plaatje University’s (SPU) Data Science and Information Computer Technology (ICT) students proudly represented the university at the 16th National Centre for High-Performance Computing (CHPC) conference in Gauteng from 30 November to 2 December 2022. The conference was co-organised by the Data Intensive Research Initiative of South Africa (DIRISA) and South African National Research Network (SANReN) with the theme: Using social media data to solve societal problems.

 

Ms Eva Mamabolo, Computer Science and Information Technology (CSIT) Lecturer and hackathon mentor at SPU’s School of Natural and Applied Sciences took on the task of mentoring the eager SPU Datatude (Data + Attitude) team which consisted of Takudzwa Stephen Machida, (Third Year Data Science), Faith Lebone Motshabi, (Third Year Data Science), Luthando Mletshe, (Third Year ICT Diploma) and Freddie Manyate, (Second Year ICT Diploma) as well as two researchers- Ms Telma Tshimangadzo Luvhengo, (Second Year ICT Diploma) and Ms Risima Dagama (Second Year Data Science). The team took third position at the Datathon for their project that aims to develop a system that will help in the early detection of civil unrest or protest in South Africa, making use of social media data (mainly tweets) on service delivery and past protests.

In preparation for the competition, the students participated in masterclasses and had to write an abstract to reflect the problem being tackled by the Data Science Practitioners, as well as the solution and outcome of the project. They were also required to create an academic poster that included an introduction, methodology, results, conclusion, recommendations, further work, and references. To ensure the success of this project, students made use of several datasets collected from different sources like Kaggle, Harvard.edu, Google scholar, and Twitter.

“Hackathon events help identify gaps in our programmes, which assist us during programme review. It also assists in observing how students apply the content they have learnt in their programme and identify areas that needs improvement. Furthermore, it helps identify open-source software that can be used by lecturers and students to implement the content learnt in the programme, especially for practical modules,” said Ms Mamabolo.

The SPU Datatude team remarked that they have learnt new ways on how to visualise data using LDA algorithm, implementing new algorithms and debugging errors in the programming code. During this hackthon, the team also learnt how to create a Data Science dashboard that can be used to visualise, analyse and monitor trends for data analysts and average users to understand and gain deeper insights from their data to make better data-driven decisions.

Congratulations to the SPU Datatude team for their win and for embracing learning, training and development in the Data Science sphere!