UOWD students receive most promising team award at UN Youth Hackathon
Tuesday, 22 March, 2022
A team of Master of Business Analytics (MBAS) students from the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) has received the award for Most Promising Team at a recent ceremony to honour the winners of the 2021 UN Youth Hackathon.
The three final year students – 26-year-old Karan Rangwani, 25-year-old Abel Kurian, and 23-year-old Fatima Modak – took part in the 3-day global data science challenge in December last year as team Dragon Fly. They competed against teams from more than 33 countries to address the theme “the impact on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Using data provided by the UN, the team chose to focus on SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth. Using the analytical skills and tools they had learnt through their classes, the team took on the challenge to conduct descriptive analytics on how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the annual unemployment rate for males, females, total unemployment rates, as well as the hours of work lost due to the pandemic, and the impact of Covid-19 on the proportion of women in managerial positions over the years.
Without any coding experience among them, the team took the initiative to conduct the analytics on SAS® Viya®. They grouped the data by world income level – low, middle-low, middle-high, and high – to help them assess the impact of the pandemic on different classes of society across the globe. The team also sought to predict the annual unemployment rate trend, and the proportion of women in managerial positions across all income classes using time series forecasting, comparing and contrasting a no-covid forecast, versus actual pandemic results, to highlight the impact it had around the world.
The team’s findings showed that the lower-middle income bracket was the most impacted across all dimensions. The resulting datasets could now be applied to build further analysis on how to tackle the problems in this particular income bracket and to plan appropriate corrective measures. The team was rewarded for their effort and initiative, earning the top score among the beginner entries and securing the prize for the Most Promising Team.
Speaking about the experience, Karan said, “The MBAS program helped us to take up this challenge as it equipped us with the key analytical and critical thinking skills, gained throughout the practical classes and academic projects. We used SAS® Viya® for our submission, which we learned through the program and our professors supported and encouraged us to implement our experience through international competitions such as this.”
Reflecting on the team’s success, Fatima said, “I was overjoyed by the news of us winning the most promising team award, more so in a global competition; most importantly, we got a chance to engage with the global data science community.” Abel added, "It was a first step for all of us in tackling a real-world problem under a time constraint and to achieve recognition at a global level has really bolstered our confidence."
Dr Osama Al Hares, Program Director - Business Innovation, remarked, “Our program is built to help professionals in solving real-world business problems and prepares the students for data-driven strategic decision-making. The UN Youth Hackathon was a great learning opportunity for the team to combine and apply the business analytics skills and techniques gained during their study in a real-life scenario. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our winning students. The talent and hard work conveyed by them shows that the future of business analytics is bright.”
Dr Prithvi Bhattacharya, who taught the students the analytical skills they used in the competition, added, “The news of our team winning in the UN Hackathon was wonderful, but not too big a surprise. The team comprised of a few of our brightest students who strongly grasped the theory and skills of business analytics and excelled in class. The competition gave them the opportunity to hone and demonstrate the skills, especially with SAS® Viya® software, that they learnt as a part of their Master of Business Analytics program, and the team shone brilliantly. I would also like to thank the organisers of the competition for recognising upcoming talent and paving the way for a bright future in the world of analytics.”
Karan, Abel and Fatima received their award at a ceremony staged in Area 50|71 at Expo 2020 Dubai in front of live and virtual audiences.