Waterloo students dive into data for 48 hours at 2021 American Statistical Association DataFest

Monday, May 17, 2021

Starting Friday, April 30th at noon, 127 Waterloo undergraduate students found themselves knee-deep in data for 48 hours at the University of Waterloo’s 2021 American Statistical Association (ASA) DataFest.

In this hackathon competition, teams of three to five students worked together to uncover meaning in a complex dataset through data analysis. They received guidance from industry sponsors, Scotiabank and Loblaws, and Statistics and Actuarial Science faculty and graduate students. After two days, teams presented a brief summary of their findings to a panel of judges through a short video presentation and write-up.

This year’s DataFest was held virtually and organized through Microsoft Teams. The dataset given to teams contained health-based information from the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Safety Center. Participants were challenged to help discover and identify patterns of drug use within the data, with particular attention paid to identifying misuse.

At the end of the competition, winning teams were chosen according to three categories, with a $500 prize awarded to each student.

Best Insight: Ahnaf Ryan, Ankur Phadke, Shriram Holla

Best Visualization: Hanna Nguyen, Jennifer Hu, Jenny Li, Jihan Feng, Yue Weng

Best Use of External Data: Harleen Bhandal, Pranav Atul Ratra, Romina Hashemi, Sara Veerani, Victoria Blazevic

“From this competition, I’m taking away a new appreciation for the work that data science professionals do everyday,” reflected 3B Statistics student and DataFest winner Victoria Blazevic. “I have also developed a newfound desire to learn more about this evolving industry and a desire to apply what I have learned, both academically and professionally.”

Keep an eye out for communications next year on ASA DataFest to take advantage of this unique experiential learning opportunity. 

The University of Waterloo’s 2021 ASA DataFest was hosted by the American Statistical Association and Waterloo’s Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science. Sponsors for the event included Scotiabank and Loblaw Data Insights and Analytics.