How to Get the Most out of ODSC West 2019

ODSC West comes to San Francisco on Oct 29 - Nov 1. With over 300 hours of content, 200+ speakers, and thousands of attendees, there is certainly a lot to see, learn, and do at the conference. Register by Friday for 10% off your pass.

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ODSC has been hailed by Kirk Borne as “the best community data science event on the planet…. [C]omprehensive and totally community-focused: it's the conference to engage, to build, to develop, and to learn from the whole data science community,” and we can’t wait to host our West event in San Francisco on October 29 - November 1. With over 300 hours of content, 200+ speakers, and thousands of attendees, there is certainly a lot to see, learn, and do at the conference. To make sure you enjoy our conference to the fullest, we’ve put together this handy guide full of tips for optimizing your experience.
Pick Your Strategy:
As we mentioned above, ODSC West has a lot of excellent data science and AI content to pick from. With any situation in which there is an abundance of choice, it’s important to set your strategy before you leave for the conference. Decide on what your goals for this conference are. Do you want to develop new skills in a specific tool or platform? Explore several unfamiliar topics? Hear from only the most in-demand, hard-to-see speakers? Whatever your goal might be, make sure to study the schedule and focus areas so that you know who is speaking where, when, and on what. That way, you’ll minimize the chance you’ll have to choose between two events at the last minute (and possibly end up missing both due to indecision).     

Choose Your Focus Area:
With ten focus areas to choose from, ranging from Machine Learning and Deep Learning to our Business and Innovation Summit, it’s important to arrive at the conference with an idea of which focus area you want to delve into. Rest assured, though, that whichever you choose will feature talks, workshops, and training sessions led by renowned experts and speakers. 

  • Open Data Science–Get information on the latest insights, trends, and discoveries in data science languages, tools, topics 
  • Machine Learning and Deep Learning–Discuss the latest advances, trends, and models in this expanding field
  • Research Frontiers–Gain insight into the most relevant cutting-edge data science research
  • Data Science Kick-Starter–Hit the ground running with the most important data science tools, techniques, and topics 
  • AI for Engineers–Build your coding skills with courses on everything from data wrangling, modeling, and workflow to essential deep learning and machine learning frameworks
  • Data Visualization–Learn the art of storytelling, information communication, and data visualization using the latest open source tools and techniques
  • Data Science for Good–Discover how your fellow data scientists are using their skills for good
  • Management, Practice, and DataOps–Learn about the challenges that must be overcome to effectively apply data science in your organization 
  • Mini-Bootcamp–3 or 5 day bootcamp covering in-demand data science skills
  • The Business and Innovation Summit–Hear about AI Innovation, Expertise, and Management from leading experts in data science and business

Study the Speakers:
To get the most out of the talks, workshops, and training sessions you attend, make sure to study speaker bios and session abstracts in advance. ODSC West’s speakers (Pieter Abbeel, Dawn Song, Rachel Thomas, and Michael I. Jordan to name just a few) are leaders in their fields, who have spent many years working and researching to build their expertise. Understanding their past and current work can help you get the most out of their talk, workshop, tutorial, or training session. This knowledge can help you to ask insightful questions that will further your understanding of the topic after their presentation.

Check the Prerequisites:
As you know, ODSC West offers workshops and training sessions for data scientists of all skill levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. To ensure that you will get the most out of the sessions you attend, it’s important that you come with not only the necessary software, but also have the required foundational knowledge. Many of our speakers list any experience, knowledge, or software requirements in their abstracts, so be sure to check out our schedule or speaker bios for more information. And carefully read our Training/Workshop Prerequisite List to make sure you have the necessary software downloaded before the session.  

Don’t Miss the Events:
With so much knowledge to gather and so many new skills to learn, it can be easy to forget about ODSC West’s community-focused and networking events. However, to do so would be a mistake. Events, such as dinner or drinks with data scientists and the networking reception, give you the opportunity to relax, unwind, explore San Francisco, and make new friends. Remember, decompressing and relaxing your brain can help you absorb and retain what you learn during the day, and the new connections and friends you make during the events could last for a lifetime. So check out some of our event highlights below (and a full list of events here) and make sure to make time for fun and relaxation. 

  • Halloween Costume Contest
  • AI Investor Reverse Pitch
  • Museum of AI Immersive Popup
  • And much more!

Leave Time for the Hallway Track:
Although we’ve been instructing you to plan, plan, plan throughout this article, we’re going to countermand that now and suggest that you leave room for spontaneity while you are at the conference. One of the great advantages of a conference that attracts thousands of data scientists and hundreds of expert speakers is the opportunity to encounter people you’d never otherwise have a chance to meet and engage in conversations you’d never have had a chance to have. So be sure to give yourself that opportunity. Take advantage of the coffee breaks and the hallway track in between talks and connect with fellow attendees, stop for conversations that seem interesting, and don’t be so set on your schedule that you miss the forest for the trees. 

Don’t Forget the Practicalities:
And last but not least, don’t forget to take care of all the little practical necessities. Remember to fully charge your laptop at night, bring business cards to facilitate connecting with peers (make sure they have your current title and contact info), and read up on what to do in San Francisco. These things seem small, but can be hugely important for your conference experience.

We hope that this guide to ODSC West 2019 helps you have the best possible conference experience. We can’t wait to see you in San Francisco in just a few weeks. And, for those of you who have been wanting to go, but haven’t bought your passes yet, there’s still time. Register by Friday for 10% off your pass. See you soon!