2019 Carolina Data Challenge draws 250 students for third annual data science hackathon

Carolina Data Challenge participants gather in Chapman Hall for the opening ceremony
Carolina Data Challenge participants gather in Chapman Hall for the opening ceremony
a team of students works on their project in the lobby of Sitterson Hall
A team of students works on their project in the lobby of Sitterson Hall

Sitterson Hall played host to more than 250 students during the third annual Carolina Data Challenge, which took place October 5-6, 2019. This year’s event was the largest yet, with participation up 60 percent from 2018.

Carolina Data Challenge is a 24-hour data science hackathon run by the Carolina Analytics and Data Science (CADS) Club and hosted by the UNC Department of Computer Science. Participants have the opportunity to “hack” on a dataset from either the financial, technology or non-profit sector, and prizes are awarded to the teams who provide the best data visualization, most valuable insights and best use of outside data, as well as to the top beginner team.

In addition to being a competition, the event is also a valuable opportunity to develop data science skills and experience, build community with fellow students and network with potential employers. No prior experience in data science is necessary, and there are numerous resources for beginners, including industry mentors and workshops and practice problems to develop skills. Prior to the event, CADS coordinated an introductory workshop and resume review session that was open to all students.

Carolina Data Challenge is one manifestation of the rapidly growing interest in data science at UNC-Chapel Hill. As the university plans to launch a new data science initiative, the 2019 hackathon featured 51 total submissions, and more than 70 percent of the participants were UNC students.

Carolina Data Challenge 2019 was sponsored by CapTech, Valassis, the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) and the National Consortium for Data Science, Fidelity, SAS, Barings, the Institute for Advanced Analytics, EY and Quantworks. The keynote address was given by Elliot Inman of SAS.

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