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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Knox Students Win Honorable Mention in DataFest Competition

A group of Knox students studying data and computer science recently participated in the annual DataFest competition organized by the American Statistical Association, a statistical analysis competition between Universities across the United States, hosted by Western Illinois University. 

Participating students Anirudh Madarapu ’26, Subhan Ahmad ’26, Vansh Chugh ’27, Adithya Asokan ’26, and Justin Douty ’25, were provided with a set of data and an associated challenge. They were given 48 hours to analyze and present solutions. “It was all about coming up with ideas, going back to the data, coding, revisiting the data, finding our figures and values, and determining the strength of two proposed variables,” team captain Madarapu said

Madarapu and his team efficiently split tasks between themselves to work cohesively and develop ideas to complete the project. At first, Madarapu says the team was having no success solving the complex challenge.“We had no clue where we were going or what we were doing. Our hypotheses were failing terribly,” he added.

However, by thinking of the problem from different perspectives, the group ultimately prevailed.

The team was awarded an honorable mention for their efforts. The competition pool consisted of graduate students from large universities like the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, adding a moment of pride not just to the student participants, but also to the rest of the Knox community. 

Madarapu said that the experience was a great way to meet new people in the field and build connections and experiences that help strengthen resumes. 

Associate Professor of Computer Science Jamie Spacco is hopeful that this event could spawn more opportunities for computer science experiences on campus. He says Knox is already planning a 24-hour hackathon, a competitive software programming event, locally for fall 2024. “These students took a lot of initiative to find and take on this challenge. We are hoping that their work at DataFest, as well as in a Hackathon up in Chicago can inspire more of these types of events,” he said. 

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Printed on Sunday, June 16, 2024