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Thinking Big 2023: A Recap of Thinking Big with Big Data!

Last week, 200 Richmond Public Schools (RPS) high school students gathered at the Dewey Gottwald Center for GiSTEM Inc's first Thinking Big event that left attendees in awe. Thinking Big with Big Data, brought together eight high schools in RPS with STEM professionals and tech enthusiasts from around the city for a day full of learning, networking, and inspiration. As we reflect on this incredible event, we're excited to share highlights and key takeaways with you.



Thinking BIG!

Two hundred scholars at Thinking Big with Big Data were able to hear an inspiring and thought-provoking keynote address. Darrell Booker, Corporate Affairs Specialist at Microsoft, took the stage to discuss career paths in tech, how to break into the field and shared about the future of artificial intelligence (AI). Attendees were awestruck by the salaries that are made by individuals in the tech space as well as by the potential of AI.



Immersive Workshops

There were two workshops featuring hands-on learning and development. The scholars had the opportunity to engage with and learn from industry experts at Microsoft and Code Ninjas.


1. Exploring the world of AI: The team at Microsoft (Micheal Lord, Data Security/Compliance Global Blackbelt; Patrick Miller, Americas Security Leader - Threat Protection and Sue Vencill, Technical Specialist) introduced the scholars to cutting-edge Microsoft AI systems and allowed them to explore their real-world application.

2. Big Data and the world of coding: Dan Walther, Center Director at Code Ninjas, taught the scholars how to develop a video game in the workshop and expanded their understanding of coding languages such as Python and JavaScript.


Exposure to Networking

Throughout the event, RPS scholars networked with universities, corporations and nonprofit organizations that utilize tech, AI, and machine learning. Scholars had the opportunity to forge new relationships and tested out their networking skills.



Special Giveaways

RPS scholars were not only immersed in the world of technology and innovation but were also able to enter special giveaways that added an extra layer of excitement to the event. Thank you to our sponsor, Altum Solutions and CEO Nichole Thompson, for providing Beats headphones and hoodies to our winning scholars!



Key Takeaways:

  • Emerging Technologies: Thinking Big 2023 provided exposure to the topics of AI, machine learning, coding, and more. The future is brimming with exciting possibilities.

  • Networking: RPS Scholars, educators, corporate sponsors, partner organizations and universities left the event with valuable connections, and exposure to cutting edge topics in tech.

  • Inspiration: The event inspired all attendees to think bigger, dream bolder, and push the boundaries of what's possible in technology.

What's Next?

The success of Thinking Big with Big Data has left us eager for what's next. Stay tuned for updates on Thinking Big 2024, where we'll continue to explore the frontiers of technology and innovation.


Thinking Big with Big Data (Thinking Big 2023) was a resounding success, thanks to the incredible speakers, engaged scholars, and the tireless effort of the GiSTEM team. We look forward to seeing how the insights and connections made at this event will shape the future of STEM in Richmond, VA.


We extend our gratitude to everyone who joined us on this remarkable journey. Until next year!

Are you an organization interested in partnering or sponsoring Thinking Big 2024? Let us know here!


Photography credits: Phew shots Photography and Amor Jay Photography

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