Evolving tech helps data interpretation expand, while STEM education connects with young students


During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies and society at large were able to use data to gain insight into the spread of the virus and how people moved around.

By using new technologies during the pandemic, healthcare officials have more insight into how to prevent widespread infection in the future.

“SafeGraph, during the pandemic … made all of their mobility data available for free to people who were doing research and plugging in trying to understand COVID-19,” said Kelly Gaither (pictured), director of health analytics at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin. “I picked that data up, and we used it as a proxy for human behavior. We could see how people were moving around. We knew what their home neighborhoods were. We knew if they were traveling or not traveling.”

Gaither spoke with theCUBE industry analysts Savannah Peterson and Paul Gillin at SC22, during an exclusive broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. In addition to discussing the usage of mobile geolocation data at TACC, Gaither explained how the younger generation is taking an interest in STEM fields. (* Disclosure below.)

How to grab young students’ interest in STEM

Educational outreach methods to attract younger students to STEM fields have fallen short, according to Gaither.  She does have a methodology, however, that can better attract children and not leave as many girls, in particular, disinterested in computer science at younger ages. 

“Most kids have had some sort of gaming device. You talk in the context of something they understand. I’m not going to talk to them about high-performance computing. It would go right over their heads,” Gaither said. “I don’t know that girls are being pushed out. I think girls aren’t interested in things that are being presented.”

Engaging with anyone can be a challenge, but Gaither believes that trust is paramount to a meaningful discussion with anyone, be it children or scientists.

“Most of the successful work that I’ve done as both a scientist and in the education and outreach space is really trust relationships. If I break that trust, I’m done,” she concluded.

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the SC22 event:

(* Disclosure: This is an unsponsored editorial segment. However, theCUBE is a paid media partner for SC22. Neither Dell Technologies Inc., the main sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage  nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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