Big Data Summit


Registration for Big Data 2019 is now closed.
If you are an industry partner of the University of Illinois and/or the Research Park, please contact Laura Bleill at for more information.  Walk-ins are welcome to join the summit any time after 12:45 p.m.

Industry Networking Event: Monday, November 11
60 Hazelwood Drive, Champaign
5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Join us as we grow the tech professional community and build relationships to foster growth in Big Data.

Big Data Summit: Tuesday, November 12
I-Hotel and Conference Center
1900 S. First Street, Champaign
The University of Illinois Research Park's seventh annual Big Data Summit is an interactive conference that offers participants the opportunity to learn and share knowledge about key aspects of big data and its business applications through dynamic panels, inspiring keynote presentations, and networking opportunities.

Big Data Career Event: Tuesday, November 12
I-Hotel and Conference Center
1900 S. First Street, Champaign
4:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Company participation in this event is FREE for Research Park tenants. Non-Research Park tenants must pay a fee to participate. Please direct questions to Jenny Kim, Assistant Director for Talent, at
Company registration is still open:

Big Data Summit Agenda | November 12, 2019

7:45 – 8:15

Registration and Breakfast

8:15 – 8:35

Laura Frerichs
University of Illinois Research Park, Director
Laura Frerichs is the University of Illinois Research Park Director.  She is responsible for managing startup company services at the EnterpriseWorks technology incubator, marketing the Research Park and supporting the University’s economic development efforts. Frerichs has developed innovative entrepreneur support programs as well as has attracted many new companies who are interested in engaging with the University of Illinois.

Robert Brunner
University of Illinois Gies College of Business, Chief Disruption Officer
Robert J. Brunner is a professor in the Department of Accountancy in the Gies College of Business and is the Director of the University of Illinois-Deloitte Foundation Center for Business Analytics. He has affiliate appointments in multiple departments and is also the Data Science Expert in Residence at the Research Park at the University of Illinois. His primary research goal focuses on the application of statistical and machine learning to a variety of real-world problems, and in making these efforts easier, faster, and more precise.


8:35 – 9:30

MORNING KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Machine Learning and Health

Sanmi Koyejo
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Assistant Professor
Sanmi Koyejo an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Koyejo's research interests are in developing the principles and practice of adaptive and robust machine learning. Additionally, Koyejo focuses on applications to neuroscience and biomedical imaging. Koyejo has been the recipient of several awards including a best paper award from the conference on uncertainty in artificial intelligence (UAI), a Kavli Fellowship, an IJCAI early career spotlight, and a trainee award from the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM). Koyejo serves on the board of the Black in AI organization, which he co-founded.

9:30 – 9:40


9:40 – 10:35

THE VALUE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: What Technologies Have the Most Value?
Stakeholders in the tech industry are looking for ways to effectively implement artificial intelligence into their businesses and drive value. Whether it is Natural Language Generation, Open Source Frameworks, Facial Recognition tools or AI hardware, our panelists will discuss what technologies they find the most value in for their industry sectors.

Moderator Kim Mendoza
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Assistant Professor
Kim has co-developed and is currently teaching an introductory data analytics course to master’s students in Accountancy. Not only does she teach analytics, but some of her research is in the technology space. Specifically, she investigates how investors and accountants respond to the use of new technologies versus more traditional methods.

Matt Ahrens
Verizon Media, Sr. Director, Engineering
Matt Ahrens is a Senior Director of Engineering in the Verizon Media data organization where he leads a team of software engineers and data scientists focused on building large-scale data applications and insights products. Matt graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics & Computer Science in 2003. He worked for Motorola for 4 years before joining Yahoo (now Verizon Media) where he has worked since 2007 with a focus on large-scale data systems and analytics. Matt also helps coordinate the local Data Science User Group that meets monthly in Research Park.

Gui Maia
Ameren, Senior Data Scientist
Gui Maia is a senior data scientist experienced in innovation analytics, advanced decision making and experimental design analysis.  He focuses on strategic consulting for cost effective reduction of losses through supply chain integration, transformation and resilience.

David Charles
John Deere, Manager of Data Driven Innovation
David Charles is the Manager of Data-Driven Innovation at John Deere’s Technology Innovation Center, responsible for leading and managing capability, technology, and product development activities related to knowledge-based solutions.  Prior to this role, he led the workforce analytics team which generated critical insights that helped develop and execute workforce plans that supported John Deere’s corporate strategy.

Abby Scott
COUNTRY Financial, Senior Predictive Modeler
Abby Scott is a Senior Predictive Modeler for COUNTRY Financial.  She is a Data Scientist with a focus on actuarial data.  Scott has experience in developing actuarial models using varied data sources and researching new methods and software for predictive analytics.


10:35 – 11:30

ANALYTICS AND TALENT: Developing Leaders in Data Science
Data Science has the potential to drive efficiencies, mine new insights and transform businesses, but the field needs a well-trained talent pool to meet the rapidly growing demand to process complex data challenges.  The University of Illinois and companies in the Research Park will discuss how they are working collaboratively to prepare students to move Big Data forward.

Moderator Amy Fruehling
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Career Services Professional
Amy Fruehling leads the Grainger College of Engineering Career Services team in preparing students for entry into the world of work. She consults organizations recruiting students on the targeted approaches available to identify relevant student populations.  And she facilitates opportunities for organizations to engage with students through career fairs, interviews, and other career related activities. Fruehling earned a BS from the Gies College of Business and an MBA from DePaul University.

Mohan Ayikara
CME Group, Director of Data Science, Intelligence and Analytics
Mohan Ayikara holds Master’s in Computer Science from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. In his current role as Director Datascience at the CME Group, Ayikara is focused on leveraging statistics, machine learning and AI to deliver insights to the financial derivatives marketplace. He is actively involved in recruiting and mentoring data scientists fresh from the University of Illinois.

Alice Delage
National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Project Manager
Alice Delage is Program Management & Community Liaison at the Midwest Big Data hub (MBDH), where she applies her interest in data to coordinate activities around The Hub’s priority areas and manage events to build the network community. Delage holds two master’s degrees, one in Urban and Regional Planning from the Sorbonne University in Paris, France, and the other in International Real Estate and Planning from University College London, United Kingdom. The rest of her time is spent as a Project Manager at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where the MBDH is based.

Ann Peedikayil
Caterpillar, Senior Digital Analyst Project Leader and Data Scientist
Ann Peedikayil is a Senior Analytics Project Leader at Caterpillar’s Champaign Innovation Center (CIC). After 12 years of working as an engineer in multiple functional areas of machine product development, she pivoted to data analytics and currently works in Dealer Support within the Cat Digital Division.  In previous roles, she recruited, trained, and managed parallel co-op students at CIC. Currently, she is helping develop Cat Digital’s recruiting strategy for the University of Illinois.

Jeff Rambole
State Farm, Senior Data Scientist
Jeff Rambole is a Senior Data Scientist for State Farm. During his tenure with the company, Rambole has built analytic solutions to support claim operations, as well as data science solutions to support the marketing and underwriting functions at State Farm.  In his current role, Rambole leads the Modeling and Analytics Graduate Network (MAGNet) for State Farm in Research Park. The MAGNet program is an internship program for students pursuing a graduate level degree in a highly quantitative discipline (e.g., Statistics, Math, Data Science) and it is an important part of the strategy for developing Data Scientists at State Farm.

Misha Shah
AGCO, Site Manager
Misha is responsible for the day to day management of the AGCO Acceleration Center at the University of Illinois Research Park. She oversees strategies for AGCO Acceleration Center including student recruitment, seeking out areas of applicable research, developing mutually beneficial partnership opportunities and creating lasting relationships with faculty and startups at UIUC.


11:30 – 12:00


12:00 - 12:45


Moderator, Laura Bleill
University of Illinois Research Park, 
Director, Communications and External Engagement
Laura Weisskopf Bleill manages the community building portfolio at Research Park. She develops strategy behind the Research Park’s events and programming; communications, branding and marketing efforts; and directs the Research Park’s efforts to grow and retain its workforce. Bleill started her career in sports journalism, where her work appeared in daily newspapers including The News-Gazette, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and others. She has a master’s and bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

Kingsley Osei-Asibey
Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, Director, Analytics & Football Technology
Kingsley Osei-Asibey grew up on the south side of Chicago and received his BA in Computer Science from Governors State University, IL. He has worked in technology for 6 years in the NFL prior to his arrival at Illinois. His role on the football team is to analyze data to pinpoint the opponent tendencies and also analyze their own data to see if there are any tendencies that the opponent may pick up on them.


12:45 - 1:45

ROBOTIC PROCESS AUTOMATION: Operating in a Human+ World
The explosive growth of Big Data has fueled our ability to develop automation tools to process unprecedented amounts of information. Our speakers will discuss how we utilize robotic process automation (RPA) and intelligent process automation (IPA) to streamline workflows, reduce human error and improve data quality to move the intelligence ecosystem forward.

Moderator, Lori Gold-Patterson
Pixo, CEO
Lori Gold Patterson graduated with her degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois and spent the first 10 years of her career in corporate America where she re-engineered and automated business processes. She then co-founded Pixo, a 30-person Digital Engineering firm. Gold Patterson is an Entrepreneur in Residence for the University of Illinois’ Research Park and has coached hundreds of tech and non-tech startups as well as corporate C-suite executives.

Pritam Das
CME Group, Digital Business Platforms

Pritam Das has 13 years of experience in product strategy and engineering execution in areas of Enterprise Application and Integration (EAI), Re-Engineering (BPR) and Intelligent Automation (BPM, RPA, AI, and ML). Qualified in the areas of technology and Information Systems Audit as a CISA professional, backed by extensive experience and expertise in FinTech, Strategy, and Product Management, he helps large organizations think and act like a startup. At CME Group, Das manages the Digital Business Platform team in Chicago and drives the vision for the Intelligent Automation platform products.

Crystal Rhoads
AARP, Interim VP for Technology Transformation
Within AARP’s IT organization, Crystal Rhoads is responsible for driving outcomes for major technology transformation initiatives, including user adoption of new technologies and capabilities, product team alignment, and rapid delivery through agile frameworks and automation. She has created and led many high functioning teams to deliver complex, enterprise solutions and views process automation as an opportunity to increase team effectiveness and achieve better outcomes.  In 2018, she developed a team to evaluate RPA and IPA tools and frameworks as well as identify a pipeline of automation opportunities with business stakeholders. AARP’s first RPA bot was created in spring 2019.

Victor Sami
Synchrony, Vice President Robotic Process Automation Center of Excellence
At Synchrony, Victor Sami leverages over 10 years of experience as a technology leader and an insatiable appetite for AI and emerging technology to lead the Robotic Process Automation Center of Excellence (CoE).  Sami and the CoE established the governance, infrastructure, engagement, delivery and operations for process automation across the company.  In the first year the environment was live, the CoE delivered tremendous benefit to the business and blazed a trail for the digital helper.

1:45 - 1:55


1:55 - 3:00

AUGMENTED REALITY: Moving Beyond our Imagination
The latest augmented reality tools are transforming how we interact with the world around us and creating real-world utility in agriculture, health care, manufacturing and more with developments right here in Champaign-Urbana.

Moderator Dan Cermak
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Informatics Lecturer
Dan brings 30+ years of experience in the video game industry to teaching Video Game Design and Production classes.  In addition, he co-teaches a VR/AR class in CS and has been part of the university since spring 2018. Prior to teaching, Dan spent almost 15 years with Volition, a local video game studio known for creating high end console and PC video games. Dan Joined Volition in 2003 as the Vice President of Development and acted as General Manager for 6 years before leaving in 2017.  He is active in assisting the gamification of various educational experiences on campus.

Miranda Kemp
AARP Director - The Tech Nest
Miranda Kemp is the Director of The Tech Nest for AARP at the Research Park in Champaign, IL. Miranda hires talented students to prototype new and innovative ideas and engages university experts in leading-edge research and development efforts.   Prototypes include virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality all with a focus on providing value to the 50+ population.

Kesh Kesavadas
Carle, Faculty and Co-Director of Simulation
University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Director of Health Care Engineering Systems Center

Jamie Nelson
Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning, Principal, Emerging Technologies
Jamie Nelson is Principal, Emerging Technologies at the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning. He oversees the operations and programming for the TechHub, a hands-on emerging technology showcase. He drives innovation by helping faculty, staff, and students explore educational technologies that advance their teaching and learning goals. Jamie specializes in emerging technologies and playful pedagogies that impact student success, including virtual/augmented reality, 3D printing, drones, esports, and more. Jamie has an appointment as a Disruption Associate with the Gies College of Business, where he and his development team are looking into fun and artistic applications for facial recognition.

Rachel Switzky
University of Illinois Siebel Center for Design, Director
Rachel Switzky is the inaugural Director for the Siebel Center for Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has been tasked with finding the best ways to incorporate design thinking across undergraduate education at Illinois. Prior to her current appointment, she has been a global design leader working with Fortune 100 companies over the past 20 years. Most recently, she served as an Executive Director of IDEO, the company who pioneered the concept of design thinking.

Mani Golparvar
Reconstruct, Inc.
Dr. Mani Golparvar is the CTO and co-founder of Reconstruct, a Software-as-a-Service company that integrates reality modeling, building information modeling and project scheduling to visually track progress, analyze productivity and proactively detect potential delays using predictive analytics.  In turn empowering construction companies to keep their projects on schedule and on budget.

3:00 – 3:50

DATA GOVERNANCE AND ETHICS: Enhancing Big Data Responsibly
AI Applications are becoming omnipresent in the workplace. As technology outpaces regulatory reform, the industry must ensure new developments avoid unintended consequences and address ethical concerns.  This panel will discuss the research around ethical questions and some of the principles being adopted around the world.

Moderator Verity Winship
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Law, Professor
Verity Winship is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. Her work focuses on business law, regulatory enforcement, and complex litigation. She has brought her expertise in regulation and enforcement to issues in data law, presenting at university and industry data science summits and participating in panels on the law and ethics of big data. Professor Winship has also commented on data privacy litigation and enforcement as part of her regular radio commentary for Legal Issues in the News, WILL-AM-FM Illinois Public Radio.

Kevin Hayes
Corteva Agriscience, Global Lead of Data Science and Informatics for Strategic Communication
Kevin Hayes is a Research Fellow at Corteva and an experienced leader of a computational biology and software development team surrounding genomics data management and analysis. His expertise in leading teams and generating innovative solutions to large problems including, but not limited to Next Generation Sequencing. Hayes’ experience also includes high throughput screening, data mining, experimental analysis, functional genomics, toxicogenomics and circadian rhythms.

Sanford Hess
City of Urbana, IT Director
As the IT Director of the City of Urbana, Sanford oversees all technology used by the City.  Since he started in 2013, Urbana has replaced most of its legacy mainframe systems with ones that capture far more information.  Of course, with more data come more opportunity and complexity.   Data requests come from both internal and external sources, and the City’s data deserves proper protection given the contents.

Elizabeth Luckman
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Gies, Clinical Assistant Professor of Business
Elizabeth A. Luckman, PhD, is a Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Business Administration, Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is also an R. C. Evans Data Analytics Fellow, Deloitte Foundation Center for Data Analytics, and Senior Academic Advisor, National Center for Professional and Research Ethics, both at UIUC. Her teaching and scholarly interests include leadership, organizational ethics, and professional development.

Matt Schaapveld
John Deere, Global IT Leader in Data and Analytics
Matt Schaapveld is a Senior IT and Data and Analytics leader with experience establishing enterprise level strategy for IT, Data and Analytics, Data Governance, and Digitalization.  Skilled in leading large global organizations, driving technical and organizational change, building high-performing agile delivery teams, defining and leading large programs, and working with senior business leaders to apply technology.


3:50 – 4:00


4:00 – 5:30

Career Networking Event

List of Participating Companies