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Countdown to UC Davis Data Hack 2019
Kickoff event sparks readiness for 24-hour competition

“Do you know how accurately a doctor can predict the survival rate of a cancer patient before surgery?” asked Anish Patankar, vice president of product management and healthcare at Barco, during the UC Davis Data Hackathon Kickoff event in January.

The answer: 0.52%.

Far less than the audience’s guess, which shows that data analysis has the potential to make a big contribution to help doctors with recommendations backed by data.

This information, coincidentally, answers the questions that I have been asking myself for a long time: what pressing problems can analytics help solve?

Data Hack 2019: Time to Shine

As M.S. in Business Analytics (MSBA) students, we develop technical skills in the classroom, and we study cases in textbooks, academic papers and news articles. We’re always seeking opportunities to put our skills into practice.

Through the one-year long practicum project in our program, we apply our skills and knowledge to help our corporate clients solve their business problems.

The second annual UC Davis Data Hackathon on April 9-10 in downtown San Francisco gives us another platform to put our skills into play. I’m part of the MSBA student group organizing the hack, which is open to graduate students from across Northern California.

During the 24-hour hack, teams will use data to solve a business case presented by our corporate partners. There’s $1,000 in prize money, but more importantly, it gives us the opportunity us to showcase our expertise and networking with industry professionals who could be looking to hire talent.

Insights from Our Corporate Partners

At the hack kickoff in January, case partners Sunrun and Barco, and event partner Strata Data Conference, presented great insights on different business domains.

Samuel Grausz, the senior director of strategy and business intelligence at Sunrun, shared their mission to “create a planet run by the sun” as a solar electricity provider.

Anish Patankar from Barco described his company’s leadership in providing visualization solutions to hospitals and the potential in healthcare analytics.

I came away much more informed about how my MSBA experience fits into the energy and healthcare sectors. Analytics could play a role in optimization in both cases. However, there are some unique challenges for them. For example, we should pay attention to the regulation of data privacy while doing healthcare analysis, which might be its biggest hindrance in the future.

Ben Lorica, the chief data scientist at O’Reilly Media and the Strata program chair, used “ABC”, which represents AI + Big data + Cloud, to summarize the technologies in which companies currently invest the most. He also emphasized that the gap between industry leaders and laggards in AI and will increase. This is where a workforce equipped with the skill sets of analytics students can come into play.

Anish Patankar, vice president for product management at BarcoBen Lorica, the chief data scientist at O'Reilly Media and the Strata program chairStudents in the data hackathonIntroducing StrataRohan Ranshinge MSBA 19Samuel Grausz, Senior Director, Strategy and Business Intelligence, SunrunPanel of experts discuss data challenges in tech

Hacker Tips

Following the corporate partner presentations, company executives and MSBA alumna Shreya Surana joined a panel to share their thoughts about the hackathon and analytics.

Shreya was the winner in last year’s Hackathon and she described her tried-and-tested techniques on how the 24-hour result can be differentiated from others. Shreya pointed out the importance of understanding your audience. Know what the goal of the audience and what they want to know. Instead of spending time on numbers that are too detailed and hard to interpret, hackers should focus on telling a story to the audience that is easy to understand and use visualization to present it clearly.

We are looking forward to putting our skills to the test and competing with our peers. All graduate students in Northern California are welcomed to join us for this invaluable opportunity.  

Learn more and register.

Hackathon, let’s go for it!