MSIA Student Team wins Annual Academic Analytics Competition

MSIA Team Winning Annual Academic Analytics Competition

On Saturday February 21st, 2015, a team of students from Northwestern University’s Master of Science in Analytics (MSiA) program participated in Illinois Institute of Technology Stuart School of Business’ First Annual Academic Analytics Competition.  The contest, held in conjunction with the City of Chicago, was promoted the use of big data analytics for public good and challenged participants to address a public administration research question provided by the City of Chicago’s data portal. Chicago-area graduate teams were selected to participate in the one-day event at IIT’s downtown campus, where MSiA competed against three other graduate programs: the MS in Marketing Analytics program at IIT’s Stuart School of Business, the MS in Computational Public Policy at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, and the Master of Public Administration at DePaul University.

 The MSiA team included Ahsan Rehman, Zachary Anglin, Alan Fritzler, Michelle Ganbaum, and Mike Snyder, all members of the Class of 2015.  Each five-person team was presented with the same question and data source, and given five hours to present a workable model to a panel of judges including one representative from each school, as well as City of Chicago Chief Data Officer, Tom Schenk, Jr.

Their objective: to determine a set of predictors that will inform the City which buildings are most likely to have violations upon inspection. The question required analysis of large, disparate data sets of the city’s past fifteen years of building permits and past ten years of inspection violations. Following exploratory data analysis and determining that the data provided sufficient geographical precision, the Northwestern team joined the two sets by considering violation records that matched the latitude and longitude coordinate values present in the permit records. After settling on a classification tree as the most suitable model, they transformed and balanced the data to provide optimal explanatory and interpretive power. Each team presented its findings in a fifteen minute presentation to the judges, and the winners were announced the following week at IIT’s Marketing Analytics Symposium.

The MSiA team utilized R, SAS, IBM SPSS, and Tableau software for their analysis. They would like to thank Martin Bariff of the Stuart School of Business for organizing the competition, as well as Mr. Schenk and the other judges for volunteering their time and energy to help with the first Annual Academic Analytics Competition.