The American Statistical Association (ASA) DataFest™ @ OSU welcomed 243 undergraduate students to campus from April 5 - 7 for their fourth annual weekend competition. In addition to tackling a large dataset and multiple analysis challenges, students had the opportunity to network with professionals, learn more about career opportunities and work with mentors like Wilner Jeanty and Jordan Springer from OCIO.
This was OCIO’s second year as a sponsor for DataFest, but the first time to provide 55 Rstudio servers through the new Ohio State AWS service. OCIO hopes to continue providing this resource on a larger scale for next year’s competition.
ASA provided workshops leading up to the event for students to learn software and ask questions. When the day arrived on Saturday, April 6 at 7:00 a.m., teams of 3-5 students were given the dataset and challenges. Students arrived with knowledge of various software like R or Tableau to tackle the data.
Because analyzing this dataset is more advanced than coursework, five mentors including Wilner Jeanty, Data Scientist at OCIO, provided guidance throughout the following two days when students needed help.
“It was fun being a mentor, providing programming help to the students. One of them had questions about a program she was writing for her class project. It was fun to see her level of programming knowledge,” said Wilner.
Students worked all through the night to find missing values or determine which type of analysis should be used. On Sunday, each team presented their findings to a panel of judges that included Wilner. Awards were given out for Best Insight, Best Visualization, Best Use of External Data and Judges' Choice.
“As a judge you get to appreciate different ways of approaching the same problem,” Wilner shared.
While students received awards and prizes for their hard work, they also gained skills that can help with career development. According to Wilner, employers may ask candidates to run statistical analyses at an interview. After completing this challenge and receiving guidance from professionals, students have a more advanced skillset to succeed.
At the end of the competition, students “may have felt emboldened and empowered to tackle their next challenges,” said Wilner.
ASA is creating future leaders with events like DataFest. By providing technology, guidance, and a space for exploration at Ohio State, students leave prepared for coursework and a career in data analytics.
More information on the event can be found at https://data-analytics.osu.edu/datafest.