The Gordon T. Summers
Data Scientist of the Year Award

Last December, we were shocked and saddened to lose someone very special to us and to the community as a whole. The principal data scientist of CAN, Gordon Summers, unexpectedly passed away. 

Gordon was an integral part of the Data Science Community, an integral part of Contemporary Analysis’s success, and a cornerstone of leadership in both thought and technical. In the months that followed, through tons of emails of sympathy, notes from clients and alumni alike, and anecdotes and stories sent to us by colleagues, we realized just how big of an impact he had on the data science community as a whole. 

It is for that reason we are going to do something special in his honor. In June of this year, we will name the first annual Gordon Summers Data Scientist of the year. This award will be given to a person who isn’t just leading a revolution in technical expertise, that is important, but also helping those who came after. Inventing, Training up, mentoring, and developing–something Gordon did every single day.

Who do we nominate and how? 

The Gordon Summers DSoY isn’t about who made the coolest viz, the most accurate ML model, or the most complex AI. It is that, but they also have to be those who serve the overall community by building teams, encouraging growth, developing talent, and recruiting to the industry as a whole. Those who will be in the cornerstone of data science for their  generation. Those that in 20-30 years, will have awards named after them. 

Please nominate a person who is either: a data scientist, data engineer, data visualist, or Business Intelligence Analyst. Someone with great skills and great character. Be ready to tell me their story. I expect a good story. 

The chalice (and there will be a chalice) will be awarded with great fanfare, a retelling of their story, an undoubtedly huge and gaudy trophy, and probably some sort of monetary prize.

Nominations will be taken until mid-May. Award announced in early June.

Any questions can be sent to

Summers Award Nomination

About Gordon Summers

Gordon Summers was a Cornerstone Data Scientist. By that we mean, one of the first. For 22 years Gordon helped Conagra build data lakes before they were called data lakes, data engineered entire manufacturing plants, and built models still used by ConAgra. After helping birth an entire industry in Omaha, it seemed only fitting that when his time came to an end at ConAgra, he would go on to lead not one, but multiple consulting agencies in their endeavor to bring data-driven decision making to Omaha and around the US.

An almost criminally short version of his accomplishments:

  • Created multiple CRAPs (he loved that term)–Cheap, Rapid Applications
  • Head of Technical Expertise and Head Programmer for a traceability software specializing in food and again in Hemp Production. 
  • Managed and Principled over 50 projects across 15 companies at Cabri Group
  • Managed and Principled over 100 projects across 45 customers at CAN
  • Mentored multiple data scientist that are now data science managers
  • Built the first version of the Omaha Data Science Academy’s Machine Learning Certificate and spent 5 years as their head of curriculum teaching 25+ data scientists. 
  • Wrote a book on managing data scientists called Leading a Data Driven Organization that eventually became a class on how to manage data science. 
  • Was one of Dataiku’s first certified users in the US
  • Once Perfected a client’s computer vision model on videos he took of diving in the Caribbean creating a “Fish Identifier”. 
  • Certified a model for a VC so the company could take 3 Million in investment
  • Spoke with multiple heads of data science to unscrew up their program. 

In addition to an amazing technical brain:  He was the best person to travel with as he could talk for hours on any subject–often taking the negative just to give you something to think about.