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Business analytics students shine at South Carolina case competition

Thursday, February 11, 2021

MS-BAnDS students


Four Oklahoma State University master’s in business analytics students were recently among the top finishers at the 2021 Student Big Data Case Competition hosted virtually by the University of South Carolina.


Team members Anirud Vem, Britton Firth, Shelby Moses and Max Griffin placed fourth out of the 22 teams from 15 universities across the United States.


“Finishing in fourth place was a great accomplishment considering no one on the team had healthcare expertise,” Firth said. “By making it to the finals, we were able to represent our program and OSU on a national level and hold our own against teams from other universities. I am proud of the solution our team created using the insights from our data analysis.


“On a personal level, this was the most challenge dataset I’ve worked with. The competition gave me an opportunity to prove to myself that I could gain meaningful insights from a dataset with nearly 12 million records in less than 24 hours.”


Moses says participating in the case competition is helping prepare her and her teammates for a future career in business analytics.


“First, it allowed me to reinforce my understanding in my technical knowledge. In class we practice, practice, practice with various tools. This competition showed that the understanding behind the practicing is what is really important,” she said. “Second, anytime I get the chance to work on a team I jump at the opportunity. Working with others allows me to learn and grow in ways I just could not do by myself. The working world is filled with human interaction, so it is a great experience to know how I mesh when working with others.


“Third, it pushed us to think managerially and focus on what was best for the business side. The judges in this competition were respected professionals from all over the health field including nurses, doctors, and researchers. The first day of the competition we felt that we were just grilled with questions and it was certainly an eye opener of what managers and professionals look for in our solutions and recommendations. Going into our presentation for the finals we were able to be prepared to be in a managerial mind-space and properly answer questions. In our job spaces it is important to understand how best to know and recommend solutions for the business and those stakeholders we will be talking to. Ultimately this competition was an experience to truly put our learning to work and give us a real-world insight.”


Each of the 22 competing teams received the case and data (12 million records with about 250 variables) around noon Friday and were asked to analyze the data and find a solution by noon Saturday. The OSU team was one of six that qualified for the final round, which included further questions and analysis while making another presentation to the judges Sunday.


“This is the second time we competed in this national event and finished in the top five,” said Dr. Goutam Chakraborty, SAS Professor of Marketing Analytics and director of the OSU Master in Business Analytics and Data Science program. “This is a tough competition drawing teams from universities such as Indiana, Duke, Connecticut, Georgia Tech and others. Although our team members lacked domain knowledge, they did a great job in analyzing this large data set and coming up with a solution for real-world health care problem. I am very proud of their accomplishments in this event.”


Visit the website for more information about the master’s in business analytics and data science program at OSU.

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