Students figure out data in two day competition

University of Wolverhampton students took part in a mega two-day data competition designed to put analysis on the learning map whilst at the same time develop career skills.

Students studying for degrees across a range of disciplines including computer science, mathematics, engineering and biotechnology took part in the intensive 48-hour challenge, DataFest, working in teams to visualise and analyse 10GB of Twitter data. A team of seven visiting German students and two professors from Aschaffenburg University also participated in the challenge.

Having originated in America, the DataFest concept was founded at UCLA in 2011, when students gathered to analyse five years of arrest records – the competition is now sponsored by the American Statistical Association, which is affiliated with the Royal Statistical Society, and hosted by several of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the US.

Dr Patricia Davies, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science in the University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, said:  “Our DataFest competition was based on the American concept and was designed to bring “big data” to our students during Career Development Week. It was a great opportunity to help the next generation to start thinking of themselves as data professionals.

“Students from across a range of faculties were tasked with analysing a huge amount of data, working in small teams to interpret their findings, and presenting them to the wider audience. The intensive exercise helped students to practise their negotiating skills, and taught them about perseverance, tolerance and working as part of a team to strict deadlines - all transferrable skills for the real world of work.

“There is a real shortage of data scientists across the globe and DataFest gave our students an insight into the kind of work they could be doing if they pursue a career in data science.”

Emily Short, a third year Mathematics degree student, 21 from Dudley, said: “It’s been really interesting working with other students from different courses and the practical side of the competition has been full-on, which has been an amazing experience.  Our team analysed data on house prices in the West Midlands and we linked it to crime data to see if there was any correlation between the two things.”

There was a friendly atmosphere between students and the eight members of staff acting as consultants. The staff worked in shifts around the clock, and made sure there was a constanst supply of food.  One of them commented: “I really enjoyed being part of Datafest and learnt a lot from the students!”

Prizes were awarded for Best in Show, Best Visualization and Best Use of External Data.

ENDS

For more information please contact the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736 or 01902 518647.

Date Issued: 17th March 2017

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