For Cleveland’s big data enthusiasts, a meetup near campus was the event of the year.

Big data offers big opportunities. That brought an upbeat crowd of computing enthusiasts (and the recruiters who would like to meet them) to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on Wade Oval Monday night, September 9.

The occasion was the Back to School Mega Meetup of the Cleveland Big Data and Hadoop User Group, a growing tech tribe with strong Case connections.

More than 300 people descended on the museum for drinks and networking beneath the dioramas. It was a mix that included data scientists, NASA engineers, math and science majors, and representatives from companies like Cloudera, Snowflake and Google.

Doug Meil, MS '98, beamed to see it. He's the creator and lead organizer of the group and its popular meetups

“This is the big event of the year,” Meil said. “We’re in a neat place. There’s a cash bar. Free pizza. But one of the things I love about the mega meetup is the sciencey theme.”

The roster of distinguished speakers included Jason Davis, the museum’s chief astronomer, who addressed the crowd in the museum's auditorium. He told a few astronomy jokes before describing the advanced tools his planetarium uses to map the universe.

Davis was followed by Cal Al-Dhubaib ’16, the first person to earn a data science degree from the Case School of Engineering and founder of the local big data consultancy Pandata. Dhubaib described Pandata’s success tracking visitor engagement at the Cleveland Museum of Art using cell phone data collected from the museum’s more than 100 Wi-Fi routers.

A rapt crowd broke into murmurs when Dhubaib advised that the museum’s metadata was available to all.

“This is the single biggest congregation of data professionals in Cleveland,” he said earlier, adding the he has hired from the meetups. “It’s a great way to learn from peers in the industry, because there’ not too many of us in Northeast Ohio.”

Clara Mueller thinks these might be her people. A junior majoring in mathematics at Case, she came to the meetup with several curious classmates.

“It’s all about exploring your options and really getting to know Cleveland,” she said. “I love this city. If there was a way for me to stay here, that would be nice.” 


Click here to learn more about the Cleveland Big Data User Group