The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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2016 Five College DataFest was a Great Success

This year’s Five College DataFest took place April 1-3 at the UMass Amherst campus.  In total, 140 students participated in the annual event.  The American Statistical Association (ASA) DataFest is a nationally-coordinated undergraduate competition where small teams of students work over a weekend to extract insight from a rich and complex data set. Previous years’ data sets have included crime data from the LAPD, dating data from eHarmony, and energy use data from GridPoint. The source of this year’s data set won’t be known until the last DataFest concludes in May.

DataFest’s mission is to expose undergraduate students to challenging questions with immediate real-world significance that can be addressed through data analysis. By working in teams, students with varying skill sets combine their efforts and expand their collective data analysis abilities. The interaction between students and with outside consultants demonstrates that data analysis is a dynamic, engaging, and vibrant part of our society and is a realistic, practical, and fulfilling career path.

“It’s exciting and rewarding to see so many talented and enthusiastic students applying what they’ve learned”, said Ben Baumer, event organizer and Assistant Professor, Statistical & Data Sciences Program, Smith College. “What a tremendous opportunity this is for our students to engage with their peers, industry experts, and a cross section of Five College faculty. For our undergraduate students, this is an important step toward understanding what she or he can look forward to in a data science career." 

At the conclusion of this year’s Five College DataFest, each of the 22 teams made a 5 minute presentation to a panel of judges. The judges made seven awards to six teams in the following categories:

  • Best in Group (3 awards)
  • Best in Show
  • Best Methods
  • Best Insights
  • Best Business Recommendations. 

Key to the success of this year’s Five College DataFest was support provided by:

  • MassMutual whose Data Science Development Program provided consultants, judges, and workshops for R, dplyr, ggplot2, and lubridate
  • Sponsors of the event included MassMutual, the American Statistical Association, Google, RStudio, and DataCamp
  • Five College faculty who supported their students throughout the event
  • Graduate Researchers Interested in Data (GRID), the organization of UMass Amherst graduate students focused on data science

More about the 2016 Five College DataFest is accessible here.