Villanova Hosts DataFest for the Fourth Year

Peter Caffrey Staff Writer

During the weekend of April 12-14, Villanova not only hosted Candidates’ Day for the class of 2023, but also hosted DataFest. It is the University’s fourth time hosting the event. 

DataFest is a nationally coordinated competition with several regional sites all across the country.  The American Statistical Association (ASA) organizes the event. They created the competition as a way to celebrate data. Villanova hosts the Philadelphia-area site, and this year marks the fourth time hosting the celebration. 

This year, more than 70 participants signed up from 13 local colleges and universities. Participation is up from last year when there were only about 15 competitors from three to four local colleges and universities

DataFest is an intense 48-hour competition, during which teams of undergraduates work tirelessly to interpret the meanings of a complex and sizable data set. Assistance, if needed, is offered by grad students, professors and industry professionals who operate as roving consultants. Industry professionals find DataFest to be an abundant recruiting opportunity. It serves as a great way to find dedicated and enthusiastic perspective data analysts.  

The celebration was first held at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2011. It has since grown nationally. Its main goal is to bring together the community of data scientists.  

The competition was open to students of all undergraduates with a love of data and will be open to the same in the future. To participate in a team, two to five undergraduates are needed. Singles, looking to be part of a team, could also enter. All participants were offered a one-month trial to DataCamp, an online data science program.

DataFest was held on the second floor of the Falvey Library. The schedule for the event this year was as follows: On Friday 4/12 at 4pm, there were student’s arrival, introductions, an overview of the event. At 5pm, an introductory video about the data was shown. Students were given a non-disclosure agreement. After, at 5:30pm, a free dinner was provided. From 6 to 10pm, participations were able to meet with any of the consultants. 

On Saturday 4/13, students had the opportunity to meet with consultants. A free lunch was served at 12:30pm followed by dinner at 5:30pm. On Sunday, consultants were available from 9 to 11am. At 2pm, participants presented their finding. Each group was given ten minutes to present. There were three judges from local companies. The event concluded with an award ceremony.