Carlos Ortega, organizer of Grupo de Usuarios de R de Madrid (Madrid useR Group), shares about the thriving community in Madrid, Spain. Carlos highlights the group’s loyal members and the richness of knowledge being shared in their Meetups. Carlos also shares about his involvement in Spain and the National R Congress for R users. The Madrid R Users have also been collaborating with educational institutions for facilities and spaces for dialogue surrounding its member’s work using the R language.
Carlos Ortega is a Senior Data Scientist for The Adecco Group, as well as Professor for Universidad Complutense de Madrid and freelance consultant. He is the organizer of the Grupo de Usuarios de R de Madrid which has over 2,700 members! Carlos began working with AT&T in the division of microelectronics, in which he worked with microprocessors and had the opportunity to get more familiar with data analysis manufacturing processes, visualizations, correlations, mixing data for different databases, and more. After that, he joined Santander, a big multinational banking group. He also worked as a consultant for the Telco and Banking industry in the area of data and digital transformation.
Why did you personally get interested in learning R? How do you use it in your work?
I started using S-Plus at ATT, we had a relationship with the Bell-Labs group that created it and in fact, John Chamber’s group created different libraries for manufacturing process analysis. In the late 1990s in our plant, we were using S-Plus intensively for multiple analyses. To witness the birth and growth of R was spectacular. I still have some of Professor Ripley’s mail exchanged on the R-Help list. Soon after I found out about the existence of R-Help-es (the Spanish R help list) that’s when those of us who participated regularly decided to set up an R group in Madrid. That’s how Grupo de Usuarios de R de Madrid was born and it has exponentially grown since. The Spanish association of R users was also created at the same time.
What is the R community like in Madrid, Spain and how has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?
We have a very loyal number of people that are part of the community. I am talking about 6 to 10 people. But, there are around 30-40 people that are currently attending our meet-ups both virtually and lower in-person. That can also be a result of the big change that came after the Pandemic. Before that, there were several meetings in different places and many people did not have time to attend.
With the Pandemic, we started to host online meetings on the Zoom platform, and we stopped physical meetups in the meantime. Now, more people from Latin America are attending our meetings every month. We have a permanent place at the Faculty of Statistical Studies in Madrid; it is a good place to host because we have available classrooms and enough materials for our events. Another collaboration that we have is with the University of Distant Education in Spain. We also have a permanent place there, which is great. It is amazing that we started getting more and more people, not only from Madrid but around the world.
What is your favorite R event you have attended?
Every year the National Congress of R users is held in Spain. This year it was held in Cordoba and I was able to participate in a workshop. Congress in Córdoba was a very nice event at a great venue. The event lasted three days but I stayed one day. It was an R User international event and although I couldn’t stay the whole event, I enjoyed it a lot. It was the first physical event after a long time, and it was very nice to see old friends and establish new friendships.
What is your favorite project from the R Consortium?
R Ladies is very important for everyone. We have a good relationship with R Ladies although we are not having many meetings together. But I am hoping to explore co-hosting events together in the near future. Another one is the R Consortium RUGS funding that has been created for the Meetups and big events. Although it is not very expensive to have these events, we’ve received funding from the R Consortium. We are very well funded and that is very important for the growth of our group.
When is your next event? What are your plans for the group for the coming year? Please give details!
Recently we were fortunate to have Edgar Ruiz (RStudio) who spoke to us about “sparklyr”. For this new year, in January and February, we have already scheduled the presentations. And we are sure that throughout the year, we will have as much talent from Spain as from other countries.
We try to meet up each last Thursday of every month. We also have an in-person event, we will be showing a new package (targets) so you can make ETLs and orchestrate changes of different kinds. I will also present myself if I have the chance.
How do I Join?
R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications!