Second-annual Scotiabank Data Science Discovery Days prepares students to work with AI

Monday, February 12, 2024

More than 150 students participated last week in the second annual Scotiabank Data Science Discovery Days.

The event, which took place both online and on campus from January 26 to February 2, invited Waterloo students to analyze large volumes of data in projects that would emulate the real work data scientists di every day. This year, the event focused on “Using AI to derive business insights from customer feedback.”

“I learned that it takes a lot of effort and data analysis to truly understand your customers’ specific needs and complaints about your app,” says Stephen Im, a Statistics major and member of the winning team, “Iris & Stephen.”  “It’s not always just about looking at the most liked comments or surface level key word frequencies.”

The winners, organizers, and judges of the competition

At the end of the week, teams submitted slide decks and reports on their findings, and the stand-out teams were chosen to present their findings to a panel of judges. The judges looked for strong data analysis as well as skillful presentation design and critical thinking. Ultimately, $8000 in prize money was awarded: $2000 to the first prize winners, two second prizes of $1500, and three third prizes of $1000.

The winning teams were:

First Place:

  • Iris & Stephen: Stephen Im (Statistics) and Iris Kim (Statistics)

Second Place:

  • Team Alpha: Ambar Chakraborty (Statistics and Computational Mathematics), Gurnika Kaur (Honours Mathematics), Kshama Patel (Computer Science), Vsevolod Ladtchenko (Master’s Statistics)
  • Triangle of Statness: Stone Luo (Math and Business Administration), Tianyi Wu (Statistics and Computational Mathematics), Jingyi Fang (Computer Science and Finance), Daisy Li (Computer Science)

Third Place:

  • DataLoader: Hunter Yin (Computer Science), Jacky Chen (Master’s Data Science and Artificial Intelligence), Eric Wang (Computer Science and Business Administration)
  • Machine Not Learning: Tingge Zhang (Master’s Data Science and Artificial Intelligence), Jiapeng Shi (Master’s Data Science and Artificial Intelligence), Hanqing Bi
  • Team Tango: Harsha Puranik (Data Science), Karthik Krishna (Computer Science), Mahdi Raza (Data Science)

“It was very rewarding to win,” says Iris Kim, a Statistics major and first place winner, “especially because we had so much fun and learned a lot throughout the event as well.”

The inaugural Scotiabank Data Science Discovery Days was originally planned for 2020, but was postponed till 2023 due to the pandemic. With a second event completed, Waterloo organizers and participants hope this will become a regular opportunity for networking and growth.

“In this second iteration of the Scotiabank Data Science Discovery Days, the Scotiabank team wanted to give our students the opportunity to apply cutting edge AI methods on a realistically large and messy dataset to address an important business problem,” says Nathaniel Stevens, assistant professor of Statistics and director of the Data Science program. “These kinds of experiences are incredibly valuable to our students, so we’re thankful to Scotiabank for hosting these events here. We hope they continue to do so well into the future.”

If you enjoyed Data Science Discovery Days, or want to learn about future events, check out the Statistics and Actuarial Science and Math events pages.