UMN student team wins national data analytics competition

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (3/22/2024) – A team of University of Minnesota students won the second annual Data Analytics Competition at Dakota State University (DSU) on Monday, March 18th. The national competition invites student teams from across the nation to evaluate big data sets and make data forecasts for real-world business needs.

The UMN team, advised by Prof. Gary Hatfield, placed first out of ten teams. Team members included Nathan Anye (Computer Science), Nitish Shirodkar (PSEO student), and Colin Ma (PSEO student). Over the course of a month, the team collaborated on a project to classify pattern recognition in Health Plan ACA claims data for fraud assessment. The team was first notified of their top-five placement earlier this month, then traveled to DSU in Madison, South Dakota on March 15th to present their analysis. The team’s thoughtful presentation of their evaluation process and special considerations earned them top spot on the podium and a cash prize of $2,500.

The members of the winning team each have bright futures in STEM. Nathan Anye, an international student from Cameroon, is a University of Minnesota undergraduate senior majoring in Computer Science, with a minor in Mathematics. He plans to launch his career as a software developer at Amazon this summer. Nitish Shirodkar and Colin Ma are PSEO students from Wayzata High School as well as alumni of the UMTYMP program. Nitish and Colin have both taken several upper division STEM courses at the University. Nitish plans to study Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech this Fall. Colin plans to study Computer Science, Data Science, or Statistics in college. These three young scientists made an incredible impact at the DSU competition, winning against several teams of advanced graduate students.

The competition, sponsored by Sanford Health, aims to give students an opportunity to challenge themselves with real-world data sets. “The students did a great job with exploratory data analysis, this was what differentiated them with the judges,” writes advisor Gary Hatfield. The competition also gives students opportunities to grow their critical thinking, collaboration, and presentation skills, paving the way for success for the next generation of data scientists.