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NCSA Hosts First-Ever Energy Datathon

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Four different teams of undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign competed in the first-ever energy Datathon hosted at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

Students competed in teams of three to solve examples of exciting and challenging energy problems with members of the first and second place teams winning prize money provided by Alteryx and Phillips 66, collaborators with NCSA.

In the Datathon, students were given a sample challenge along with the training and tools needed for their team to work toward a common goal. Over the course of the two-day day event, students worked together using the appropriate software and data research technology to provide a solution for the challenge and presented their results and answered questions in front of a panel of six judges from Alteryx, Phillips 66 and NCSA.

Phillips 66, a clearly innovative and important partner of ours, presented the unique idea of a datathon in concert with one of their vendors, Alteryx. The end result was a unique offering from Alteryx, presenting challenges to our talented students who rose to the occasion with superb results and their talent shining. We are all very happy with the outcome and would like to get even more students involved next year.

Brendan McGinty, Director of Industry at NCSA

Graduate students Jason Li and Zhe Chen and undergraduate student Spencer Bauer took first place as a team in the competition and $1,000 in prize money a piece.

“It was a great learning experience to participate in the Alteryx/Phillips 66 Datathon at NCSA. As a statistics student in this collaborative project, I realized that statistics is not merely working within a well-defined world of axioms and operations, but it is fundamentally about relating such a system to the real world,” said Chen. “For real-world data challenges, knowledge of different fields really matters. Firstly, to exploit the wide and diverse range of knowledge and methodologies of the other members and, secondly, to clearly get across my specialized knowledge to those from other backgrounds. I find such teamwork a really satisfying experience.”

Undergraduates Patrick Liu and Chengbo Li and graduate student Xinkai Zhao finished second together and won $500 each.

“I enjoyed working with the representatives of Phillips 66 and Alteryx, and special thanks to my group mates,” Li said. “In the two-day Datathon program, I experienced fun and highly motivating group chats and contests. I hope to join another Datathon soon!”

Participants received valuable experience in teamwork and innovation, solving difficult problems through collaboration and opportunities to foster professional connections.

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