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News

Miami teams sweep top spots at record-setting DataFest


April 2018

Jay Murdock

Seventeen million lines of data, more than 20 columns of information per line. Nearly 3 gigabytes of words and numbers in all. That’s what 163 students from Miami University, Bowling Green State University, Northern Kentucky University, University of Dayton, University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, and the College of Wooster tackled at DataFest this weekend.

A record 35 teams had to look at the data, sample, clean and manipulate it, then decide what story and conclusions they could draw from it.

“It was a really cool experience because it was nothing like anything I’ve done before. It’s not very often where you just get thrown a data set and say ‘Come to a conclusion,’” senior accountancy major Brett Bellman remarked.

From Friday evening to Sunday morning, the teams worked in the lower level classrooms and breakout rooms at the Farmer School of Business. Notes and ideas filled laptop screens, whiteboards, paper taped to walls, and patterns of sticky notes.

“I think we started a bit rough. We were a little bit worried at first, but then it came back together, it was productive,” senior math and statistics, engineering physics, and predictive analytics Austin Nar said.

On Sunday morning, teams were assigned to one of four rooms to make their initial presentation to a mix of industry experts and faculty judges. The top two teams from each room then presented again in the afternoon before all of the industry experts.

“I thought this was an incredibly talented group of students. They have great critical thinking skills for their age, and it will be wonderful to see what they do with these skills when they get in the workplace,” Cardinal Health manager of data analytics Graham Smith noted.

The winning teams, all from Miami, were:

1st place: ANOVA One Bites the Dust -- Austin Nar, Sanchit Ram Arvind, Bob Krueger, Robert Garrett, Alison Tuiyott

2nd place: How Big Is Your Data? -- Sean Cahill, Peter Kalivas, Hunter Meacham, Tyler Schroeder

3rd place: Data Diggers -- Jimmy Dudley, Brett Bellman, Ryan Estep, Chris Paxton, Lee Shibley

“I could just jump off the walls right now. Starting off, I knew the team was going to be great, I knew the talent was going to be off the wall,” sophomore statistics and predictive analytics major Alison Tuiyott said. “Everyone has a different area that they’re good at. But seeing it develop, seeing our highs and our lows, how we put things together at the end and it looked just amazing.”

Judges said the talent exhibited by all the teams was impressive.

“What impressed me most was the composure of the kids in delivering their story and the work that they put behind it,” Cleveland Clinic director of risk analytics Don McClellan noted.

“It’s not often you get college kids spending an entire weekend doing something like this.” “I think this is a great opportunity for the students to get a sense of the real world challenges in solving data problems. They have to become familiar with the data set, understand its capabilities and limitations,” Fifth Third Bank vice president of strategy and architecture Doug Sackin explained.

Organizers are thrilled to see DataFest’s growth and success.

“It’s great to see this thing keep growing, evolving, and next year, we’ll do better,” associate professor of statistics Dr. Tom Fisher said.

“I think the event was incredibly successful. All the students, as they were leaving, still seemed really excited, after spending who knows how many hours looking at a giant data set,” Lindsey Holden, assistant director of the Center for Analytics and Data Science, remarked. “So for me, I think that’s a mark of success.”

To see more photos from the weekend, visit our Facebook page.

1st place: ANOVA One Bites the Dust -- Austin Nar, Sanchit Ram Arvind, Bob Krueger, Robert Garrett, Alison Tuiyott 2nd place: How Big Is Your Data -- Sean Cahill, Peter Kalivas, Hunter Meacham, Tyler Schroeder 3rd place: Data Diggers -- Jimmy Dudley, Brett Bellman, Ryan Estep, Chris Paxton, Lee Shibley Groups working on DataFest projects Bri Clements writing on paper Winners ANOVA One Bites The Dust working on the project Runners-up How Big Is Your Data? working in a breakout room