TAMIDS awards $6,000 to student teams in annual data science competition

Six teams of Texas A&M University students shared $6,000 in prizes during a data science competition hosted by the Texas A&M Institute of Data Science (TAMIDS).

The competition required students to analyze airline data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics to develop measures and models to forecast the expected performance of airlines.

Competitors were given the option of testing models for service metrics such as customer satisfaction regarding flight delays and lost baggage. However, students were encouraged to explore outside these recommendations if it inspired new and innovative analyses of existing data. Each team produced a report of up to 20 pages with appendices for codes and model output.

More than ninety teams  registered for the event and 15 submitted entries. The teams competed in two categories: graduate or undergraduate. In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, the competition moved to an all-online format for working sessions and the final event on April 22, 2020. First-place teams in each category received $1,500, second $1,000 and third $500.

“Competitors in both divisions demonstrated remarkable skills in framing the problem and executing their technical approach,” said Nick Duffield, TAMIDS director and professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, College of Engineering. “The winning teams derived novel insights into airline performance and translated these into recommendations for business operations.”

In the graduate student category, first place went to team PI Star Skyblazers, comprising Sheelabhadra Dey and Sumedh Pendurkar, both in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, College of Engineering. Analytics Necromancers placed second with Akhil Arora, Akhilesh Gandhi, Jianping Li and Manali S. Zantye, all in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering. Third place went to Approximately Normal, with Satwik Acharyya, Indrajit Ghosh, Sandipan Pramanik, Ananya Roy Chowdhury and Rachael Shudde, all in the Department of Statistics, College of Science.

In the undergraduate category, first place was awarded to Inflightful, with Allyson King, Cameron Brill, Nathan Reddy and Samarth Dave, all in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, College of Engineering. Second place went to Cluster One, with Landon Buechner, Department of Mathematics, College of Science. Third place went to Confident Outliers, with Zichen Li, Department of Mathematics, Fang Shu, Department of Statistics, both in the College of Science; Songlin Xie, J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering; and Yuhan Zhang, Department of Economics, College of Liberal Arts.

The panel of judges comprised Duffield; Edward R. Jones, executive professor (retired), Master of Science Analytics Program, Mays Business School;  Venkatesh Shankar, director of research at the Center for Retailing Studies and professor, Mays Business School;  Shawn Turner, senior research engineer, Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI); Shanin Shahrmpour, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering and the Department of Electrical & Computer engineering, College of Engineering; Jianhua Huang, associate director, TAMIDS; and Charles Lindsey, machine learning scientist, Revionics. Additionally, representatives from TAMU Datathon, Josiah Coad and Chinmay Phulse, both undergraduates in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, College of Engineering, organized information and working sessions for competitors.

The event received sponsorship from Revionics, the Department of Statistics, the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering and TTI.