Future Data Scientists Provide Insights for Minnesota Wild at MUDAC 2018

More than 125 undergraduate students recently spent a weekend developing insight into a business analytics problem posed by the Minnesota Wild.

The Seventh Annual Midwest Undergraduate Data Analytics Competition (MUDAC) brought together student participants, their advisors, and analytics professionals for a two-day competition April 7–8. The event was hosted by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Winona State University and co-presented by MinneAnalytics and the Minnesota Wild.

“MUDAC was started to give undergraduates an opportunity to showcase their abilities and solve an analytics problem using real-world data,” said Chris Malone, director of MUDAC. “It enables students to put into practice what they’ve been learning in the classroom.”

The 35 participating teams were given a challenge question and 24 hours to work with a dataset provided by the Minnesota Wild before presenting their insights. About 40 working professionals volunteered to assist with judging the proposed solutions. A team from Winona State University won first place ($500 prize), a team from University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire took second place ($250 prize), and a team from Cornell College won the award for most accurate prediction ($250 prize).

“Working with your friends to solve real world problems is exhilarating,” said one University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire student participant. “It taught me how to work with a group and utilize each other’s strengths to succeed.”

An important aspect of the competition is that the students get to work with a real dataset. This year’s data was provided by the Minnesota Wild, who received all solutions immediately following the competition. Students were asked to identify and operationalize relevant fan retention metrics in order to maximize the renewal rate of season ticket holders

“We’ll have to wait and see if the Minnesota Wild implements any of the proposed solutions,” said Malone. “Often, what is most useful to the data sponsor is the diversity and robustness of the students’ ideas.”

Now in its seventh straight year, the competition continues to expand and evolve over time. A total of 20 different colleges and universities participated at this year’s event, which also included a panel discussion on professional development and a career fair for participants.

MUDAC 2018 was a collaborative effort presented by Winona State University, MinneAnalytics and the Minnesota Wild. MUDAC 2019 will be hosted by Mankato State University and is planned for March 30-31.

Thank you to all of the students, advisors and professionals from our community who participated!

Meet the Top Teams

First Place Overall
School: Winona State University

Team Participants (Left-to-Right): Brad Hennes, Uzma Ghanzanfar, Bradley Erickson, and James Hickey

Second Place Overall
School: University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire

Team Participants (Left-to-Right): Seth Gilbert, Nicolas Larson, Hunter Hartke, and Lance Tanel

Best Prediction Accuracy
School: Cornell College

Team Particiapants (Left-to-Right): Angela Aley, Gabby Ferro, and Julia Thome

2018 Participating Schools: Bethel University, College of St. Scholastica, Concordia College, Cornell College, Hamline University, Iowa State University, Loras College, Macalester College, Minnesota State University Mankato, Minnesota State University Moorhead, St. Cloud State University, University of St. Thomas, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, University of Minnesota Morris, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, University of Wisconsin Madison, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Winona State University