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Arizona Chapter Holds In-Person ASA DataFest

1 July 2023 292 views No Comment
Group of 15 students all wearing casual clothes

Arizona DataFest participants, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

The Arizona Chapter held its ASA DataFest March 24–26—its first with in-person options since COVID began—and had a record 119 students enroll.

The planning committee included representatives from all three public universities in Arizona and voted to have locally hosted options at Arizona State University, Tempe; the University of Arizona, Tucson; and Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff along with a fully virtual option for any student. Thus, there were effectively three concurrent DataFests running across the state, connected by virtual opening ceremonies, general announcements, quick tutorials, and the final presentations and judging.

This format multiplied the work but also brought the event to more campuses and involved more graduate students, professionals, and ASA members. Among the participants were the Arizona Chapter’s president, Hao (Helen) Zhang of the University of Arizona; secretary, Tierra Stimson of the University of Arizona; and Jarrett Barber of Northern Arizona University.

Besides being an educational event for undergraduate students, DataFest provided opportunities for chapter members to develop different skills or enjoy new challenges. Examples include Yi Zheng of Arizona State University, who developed detailed action plans/checklists for running the competition (including in-person and virtual aspects); Xueying Tang of the University of Arizona, who prepared and presented quick virtual tutorials on data science techniques of interest to DataFesters; and Robert Buscaglia of Northern Arizona University, who stepped up to a leadership role as co-chair of the event committee.

With a post-event satisfaction rating of more than 91.3% (n = 42) by students and the event with the highest number of members in active participation, ASA DataFest continues to be a key event for the chapter—one that maintains the vitality of the chapter and connects it to the data science community in the state.

Efforts are underway to assess strategies for next year’s events, including gathering sponsors, encouraging member participation as judges and mentors, and increasing the number of women involved.

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