Top News / April 26, 2024

The Smith Analytics Consortium’s Annual Datathon Breaks Another Record

Nearly 400 Students Participated from UMD and American University’s Kogod School of Business

The 5th Annual Datathon involved 370 students across 53 teams. “It’s our highest record,” said Smith Analytics Consortium Director John Bono, “we’re just on a very big upward trajectory of growing this competition.” For the first time, the competition included American University Kogod  School of Business students. Many teams were composed of students from both Kogod and UMD. “Both Smith and Kogod are top-ranked institutions among business schools and we have almost an obligation to let our students engage with each other,” said Shawn Janzen, professorial lecturer with Kogod’s Department of Information Technology & Analytics.

Expanding the Datathon to a neighboring business school is right in line with Smith’s Strategic Plan. Dean Prabhudev Konana says, “Now that it’s not only open to all majors at the University of Maryland but to Kogod as well, the Datathon is a great continuation of Smith’s goals to reimagine learning and create integrated interdisciplinary opportunities.”

The 15-day Datathon hosted by the consortium at the Robert H. Smith School of Business was a collaboration with Deloitte, focusing on a scenario based on a major real-world decision poised to occur in professional sports—the NBA expanding its 30 clubs to 32. Using data visualization and problem-solving analytics, the contestants provided recommendations on locations for new NBA teams.

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First Place Datathon Winners, the MegaBiters
Second Place Datathon Winners, the Quant Queens
Third Place Datathon Winners, Revenge of the DataDuckies
Datathon Judges; Deloitte Managing Directors Jared Townshend, Paul Baliff, Rashmi Mathur, Daniel Spar

The Datathon final occurred on April 12, 2024, with six teams vying for $7500 in cash prizes. The finalists had only eight minutes for their presentations and faced questions from the Deloitte four-judge panel. In the end, the MegaBiters, a Smith School team, won the 1st place prize of $3,000 and one-on-one time with Deloitte practitioners and leaders. 

“We chose Seattle and Baltimore as our two cities,” said Andreas Mayr ‘24, MSIS ‘25, “and Seattle ended up taking the win for us, so we developed a full promotional plan and analysis to develop a team for that city.” The fact that Seattle is the home of a former NBA team–the SuperSonics–was one of the reasons the winning finalists selected it. “The name of our team is the Thunderbirds, which is the Native American version of the Phoenix,” said Maria Lanasa ‘24. The Great Seattle Fire of 1889 destroyed Seattle’s central business district. So, the MegaBiters made a correlation between that tragedy and the SuperSonics, portraying locating a new team in the city as being akin to the Seattle SuperSonics rising from the ashes.

Across all six of the final teams, the Deloitte judges looked at what kind of data was collected, and the techniques employed to use that information. Datathon judge and Deloitte Managing Director Rashmi Mathur noted effective communication mattered, “their ability to answer questions and explain their analysis. It was a combination of those two things that we were examining.” 

Fellow Deloitte Managing Director and judge in the competition final, Jared Townshend ‘08, was impressed with how all the finalists applied what they’ve learned in the classroom to a real-world scenario. “It’s awesome to see the University of Maryland academic rigor applied here. As a potential hiring company, we want to see how well that translates.”

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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