Students Put UMD on the Map for Data Science

Big data means the opportunity to provide answers to big questions and that is what a group of our students set out to do.

As part of MinneMUDAC, a data science challenge, students were asked to analyze data to predict soybean prices and determine the best time for farmers to sell in today’s volatile market.

Four teams from UMD participated in the competition, three from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and one from UMD’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics. Two of the Bulldog teams placed in the top ranks of the undergraduate division which was highly competitive and included teams from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota and Indiana.

The soybean based challenge was sponsored by Farm Femmes, a technology agriculture company co-founded by two female data scientists and farmers from Manitoba Canada.

Year After Year

Associate Professor Tracy Bibelnieks is the advisor of the Data Doggos SCSE team that placed in the top three and won the Serendipitous Discovery award. “It was an absolute pleasure to serve as an advisor for the SCSE teams again this year,” said Bibelnieks. “This was our fourth year of competing at analytics challenges and every year we've come home with at least one team in the top three for MinneMUDAC.”

The Bulldogs on the winning SCSE team were: Kaylee Andersen, Daniel Crist, Christopher Kuehn, Noah Lahr and Brian Paulsen.

Unique Challenge & Opportunity

Andersen said they had to do a lot of research to understand what impacts soybean prices and growth as well as figure out the best way to communicate their analysis. She said, “It was fun to take a problem and approach it in different ways as a team.”

Taking part in a competition like this means a lot of extra work for students that are already busy, but Crist said it’s well worth the effort. He explained, “It was a good opportunity to show off our efforts and put our skills to the test. There were plenty of potential employers there, scouting students to hire, and we think we impressed a lot of important professionals.”

Students from all disciplines at UMD are welcome to be part of a Data Science Club that formed in the fall of 2019 to help groups prepare for competitions like MinneMUDAC. Crist said that most of the current members are majoring in math, stats, computer science and management information systems.

Pictured above (left to right): Team Advisor Tracy Bibelnieks, Kaylee Andersen, Daniel Crist, Christopher Kuehn, Noah Lahr and Brian Paulsen.