University COVID-19 update

The University of Waterloo is constantly updating our most Frequently Asked Questions.

Questions about buildings and services? Visit the list of Modified Services.

Please note: The University of Waterloo is closed for all events until further notice.

Waterloo students dive into data for 48 hours at 2021 ASA DataFest

Monday, May 17, 2021

DatafestStarting Friday, April 30 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 SAS 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.

While a 48-hour data hackathon may seem daunting, DataFest is open to students of varying skill and experience levels. “It was my first time participating in such an activity,” explained Pranav Atul Ratra, a 4B Physics and Astronomy student, “and I felt that I learned several useful skills that I can apply in my future endeavours, both academic and professional.”

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

The varied award categories reflect the diverse thinking processes of these participants and the open-ended nature of DataFest that inspires innovation. Sara Veerani, a 3B Financial Analysis and Risk Management student said, “The DataFest provided an incredible learning opportunity that fostered teamwork. Each team member brought forward their diverse classroom and workplace learning, along with the zeal to learn more.” Ratra added, “We each had different sets of skills, different views and ideas about how to tackle the problem and how to display our findings in a compelling way.”

Consultant assistance was considered a key component of the experience for the DataFest winners. “The consultants of the competition, from faculty/grad students to industry professionals, helped further develop my data science and data analysis skills and thinking,” said Victoria Blazevic, a 3B Statistics student. “They taught me about different tools and technologies to analyze data and how best to present our findings.” 3B Statistics student Ahnaf Ryan also noted the invaluable contributions of mentors at DataFest to participating teams: “[they] provided feedback on how to transform an idea to an actual working prototype, which was quite useful.”

To future DataFest participants, Blazevic’s advice is to “come into this competition with an open mind and desire to learn. Ask as many questions as you can and prepare to develop new skills!” 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.

  1. 2021 (16)
    1. June (2)
    2. May (3)
    3. April (2)
    4. March (2)
    5. February (3)
    6. January (4)
  2. 2020 (27)
    1. November (2)
    2. October (3)
    3. September (2)
    4. August (1)
    5. July (3)
    6. June (3)
    7. May (3)
    8. April (7)
    9. March (1)
    10. January (2)
  3. 2019 (36)
    1. December (1)
    2. November (2)
    3. October (3)
    4. September (3)
    5. August (3)
    6. July (4)
    7. June (5)
    8. May (8)
    9. April (4)
    10. March (2)
    11. January (1)
  4. 2018 (25)
  5. 2017 (17)
  6. 2016 (12)
  7. 2015 (12)
  8. 2014 (20)
  9. 2013 (11)
  10. 2012 (16)
  11. 2011 (5)