What is DataFest?
DataFest is a competition sponsored by the American Statistical Association (ASA) where teams of up to four students participate in a weekend-long data analysis session. Teams are given large and complex sets of data from real-world organizations and businesses, and the teams’ results may have an impact on research, policies, or decisions in those institutions. Over the course of two days, teams work around the clock to create a thoughtful analysis to present to the judges and their peers. Analyses should communicate the teams’ insights, but must also frame those insights in a way that can be easily understood by experts and novices alike.  Students from engineering, math, computer science, statistics, social science, and other fields have participated in the event.

Why should you participate?
DataFest is an opportunity to:

  • work with a data set from an actual business or research study
  • develop marketable experience cleaning and analyzing data
  • sharpen your data analysis skills
  • interpret real-world statistics
  • engage in critical thinking
  • participate in group work
  • get creative with data
  • win prizes and have fun

In addition to honing your data analysis and team working skills, ASA DataFest is a great opportunity to gain experience that can translate to the workplace. Including the DataFest experience on your resume conveys a level of comfort with statistics and an ability to engage in critical thinking.

How do you register?
Because DataFest teams are working with confidential data, the registration process is very important. Each member of your team will need to complete the DataFest Entry Form, including a non-disclosure agreement.

How do you find a team?
Many students will organize teams on their own, but if you’re interested in participating and haven’t found teammates yet, we can add you to a group that’s looking for additional members. Please complete the DataFest Team Formation Questionnaire.

I submitted my entry form/team formation questionnaire. What should I do next?
First, mark your calendar for the orientation meeting at 3:00pm on Friday and for the awards ceremony at 12:00pm on Sunday. (Both will be held virtually). We will send you an email with more information a couple days before the start. At the orientation at 3:00 pm on Friday, we will go over the rules and make the data available. Then the competition begins!

Are you interested in volunteering as a DataFest mentor or judge?
We welcome PLU alumni and community members to serve as mentors or judges for our DataFest participants. Mentors must be able to commit a minimum of 75 minutes of online volunteer time. Judges will need to be available for a 2 hour online commitment on Sunday morning. To find out more about volunteering, please reach out to Assistant Professor of Mathematics N. Justice at justicng@plu.edu.

Would you like to sponsor a prize or donate to DataFest?
If you’d like to support DataFest with a financial gift, we have opportunities to sponsor prizes for students or sponsor the in-person breakfast event on Saturday. If you’d like more information about donating to DataFest, please contact Assistant Professor of Mathematics N. Justice at justicng@plu.edu.

ASA DataFest at PLU is organized by Assistant Professor of Mathematics N. Justice, Resident Instructor of Mathematics Nick Paterno, Director of Financial Planning and Analysis Craig Chamberlain, Assistant Professor of Business Catherine Ha, Associate Professor of Computer Science Renzhi Cao, Assistant Professor of Computer Science Jeff Caley, and Natural Sciences Administrative & Communications Assistant Christine Nicolai.