On Friday March 25, seven of Dr. Bower's MTH-245 students arrived at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia to kick off the first DataFest since 2019. This was Furman's first time competing in the competition. The seven students were divided into two teams, with the Team 1 consisting of Eleanor Liu, Salem Wear and Marc D'Avanzo, and Team 2 with Morgan Abell, Emma Hardin-Parker, Grace Houser and Maggie Lewis. That night, the teams downloaded the necessary data sets and began preparations for the next day.
DataFest, in simple terms, is a competition put on by the American Statistical Association for college students at different universities around the United States. Each "host" university invites surrounding universities to join and participate, as Emory invited Furman. 60 students competed, creating 13 total teams.
During the competition, students were to take the downloaded data and create hypotheses for the data, calculate summary statistics and create visuals to represent the data. All tasks were achieved through a programming software called "R," which is the main focus of Dr. Bower's MTH-245 course.
The presentation itself is limited to only three PowerPoint slides and the presentation must stay within five minutes. Five judges looked at the synthesized information and ranked each of the teams in four categories: Best Insight, Best Use of External Data, Best Visualization, and Best Overall (Judge's Choice). Furman's Team 1 won Best Overall, and were each awarded a certificate and a $40 Amazon gift card for their achievement.
Dr. Roy Bower, Assistant Professor of Statistics, said "[I am proud] of the Furman students who participated. The teams we competed against had much more experience in data analysis, as Emory is a much larger university with a department dedicated to such topics – so, we were definitely underdogs in a sense."
Dr. Bower also went onto say that students needed to problem solve their way through some aspects of the analysis and presentation, which he believes "speaks to the type of education students are receiving at Furman as a whole."