Escambia County Offers Kudos to UWF Associate Professor

Pensacola – Dr. Lakshmi Prayaga recently received the Information Technology Partner Award from the Escambia County School District.

Prayaga is an associate professor of information engineering technology and networking and communications in the College of Education and Professional Studies at the University of West Florida.

The school district selected Prayaga for the award based on her dedication to volunteering in schools, where she exposes students to current trending topics in the realm of information technology.

“I primarily pick topics that result in workforce skills,” Prayaga said.

Her areas of expertise include data analytics and visualization, storytelling with computer graphics and music simulations, 3-D gaming and mobile app development.

This last semester, Prayaga has been working with juniors in Mary Massey’s programming class in the Academy of Information Technology at West Florida High School of Advanced Technology.

West Florida High School of Advanced Technology is a magnet high school in Pensacola. It is part of the Escambia County School District.

“She does an awesome job with students and puts a lot of time and effort into showing them technology that expands their perspective about the field of computer science,” Massey said.

Prayaga is working on a project called “Juniors say Hello to HADOOP.” She has a UWF computer science graduate student, Keerthi Devulapalli, assisting her with the endeavor.

“HADOOP is one of the most current and advanced technological tools that deals with data analytics,” Prayaga said.

Massey’s class of 18 juniors studying with Prayaga are learning to use HADOOP to analyze information about two main topics: crime statistics in Chicago and airline company flight data.

The data sets for these two topics are publically available and are over a gigabyte in size, which works very well for this project.

“The power of HADOOP is evident when using large data sets, those over one gigabyte,” Prayaga said.

Students work in small groups to answer questions about these two large data sets. Example questions include:

  • What types of crimes occurred in each area during a certain time period?
  • How many arrests were made for each type of crime during a specific time period?
  • How many people were arrested for drug possession in a certain area during a certain time period?
  • What flights destined for specific cities landed on time during a certain time period?
  • What flights were canceled and for what reason during a certain time period?

When they complete their HADOOP projects, the students will highlight their methods and their findings at a presentation called the Data Analytics Showcase. The showcase is April 12 at West Florida High School.

“There will be administrators from the school and the county in attendance as well as our business partners from the IT community,” Massey said.

The business partners attend the event to stay apprised of the different types of technology students are learning about in school.

“Dr. Prayaga teaches us how to process data in the fastest possible way,” said Lukas Baker Mattson, who is one of Prayaga’s students in the “Juniors say Hello to HADOOP” session. “It’s fun to do, and it’s amazing how many different things you can find out about with just a few lines of code.”