Hackathon to highlight the potential of data science

Photo by Tyler Meuter

Stephen Go and Avi Ahuja are both third-year IE and CS, respectively. These two along with Thomas Ross, another third-year IE have teamed up to start to new organization on campus known as Data Science at Georgia Tech.

The duo realized their passion for data science when they attended a competition together pertaining to data science.  Go described the experience as “very interesting and rewarding.”

Go said, “We tried to look for something similar at Tech, but couldn’t find anything.”

Ahuja and Go were determined to change this, and created this organization where students could learn about and explore the field of data science. The organization aims to serve as a “platform for students to practice and expand their knowledge on data science.”

Data science is more than just a pastime. It is a growing field that has many prospects in the job market. “There’s so much data these days,” Ahuja said, “and most companies actually don’t know what to do with it. If they were able to go in and extract this data and really analyze it, they can cut costs, increase margins and improve efficiency all around.”

The club has not officially started, but the team decided to launch the organization in a hackathon that they have named “Hacklytics.”

“This is our way of introducing what we do as a club and the types of events we’re going to throw,”  Go said.

Hacklytics is a twelve-hour data science hackathon taking place on April 16. “We will provide students with prompts … that they will try to complete throughout the day and compete for prizes,” Ahuja said.

Many students are interested in this club’s inaugural event. The number of students that applied was so overwhelming that the event had to change locations from the Centergy building to Clough in order to accommodate more people.

This hackathon is the first of its kind at Tech.  The team planned the event in about an moth and a half with mindset of “maximizing impact.” Go went on to emphasize the important aspects of planning the event: “ … it was a lot of thinking about what professors to contact, which sponsors to reach out to and at type of interaction we want to have with the students.”

The team really took into consideration what would “help students grow and be challenged at the same time.”

Data science is a crucial skill that everyone needs to learn. Go emphasized this by saying, “We really think that everyone should give [data science] a shot.” He continued, “Data science is the intersection of three things — statistics, computer science and domain expertise … everyone has something to contribute to the final product.”

Go closed by saying his favorite part about data science is the challenge. “It’s very rigorous,” Go said, “but at the end of each project, you get a different type of satisfaction because you feel like you’ve discovered something that’s not trivial.”

Ahuja’s fascination with data science lies in its potential. “I like the fact that you can take thousands of lines of data and consolidate it, run a couple of algorithms, rigorously analyze the data and come up with practical results that make sense.”

All students are encouraged to check out the data science hackathon on Saturday and come to the weekly meetings that will begin in the fall.