Five Meredith students – Madison Batten, ’18, Autumn Bridges, ’16, Melissa Jenkins, ’17, Amanda Lozier, ’17, and Melyssa Minto, ’17 – represented the College at ASA DataFest™, a nationally-recognized statistical computing competition that took place April 1-3, 2016, at Duke University.
Led by mathematics instructor Victoria Weber, Meredith’s “Analyzing Angels” team competed against nearly 300 students from other area colleges and universities (as well as one high school team from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics) to analyze a large, difficult data set over the course of the two-day competition.
In one word, Minto described the experience as intense.
Making the competition even more intense was the fact that the data set was kept secret until the challenge began.
“There was so much data and so little time,” Minto said. “Analyzing real data takes creativity and can become arduous. The majority of time spent in statistical computing is finding functions that do what you need them to do and fixing errors that you come across.”
Minto’s teammates agreed.
“I had never worked with a data set with over one million entries before,” said Bridges, who is pursuing a career in statistics or analytics after graduation. “It was a nice challenge. We were also the only all-female team there, so that was pretty exciting.”
Batten said ASA DataFest™ allowed her to collaborate with a group and present in front of a crowd, which she felt confident doing because of in-class experiences at Meredith.
“Here at Meredith we have the opportunity to build the confidence and career drive that lead to a successful life,” she said.
Although the student team didn’t take home an award, they said that the competition was rigorous but fun, offering them a valuable opportunity to apply their strengths to real-life situations.
Weber said she hopes the Meredith team expands in the future.
“I think a lot of students at Meredith are starting to see the utility in learning more about statistics, no matter what career path they have chosen for themselves.”
By Darrielle Milford, ’19