Cas Sweeney ’19 | Associate Editor
From March 23 to 25, the Integrated Sciences Building at UMass was full of ambitious computer science, data science and statistics students competing at the fifth annual Five College DataFest.
A regular event that students look forward to, this year the event was bigger than ever with 186 students participating. It was also the largest DataFest in the country.
DataFest is a competition between students from Smith, Mount Holyoke, UMass Amherst, Hampshire and Amherst. They work in teams of five over the course of 25 hours to analyze data provided by a business sponsor.
Smith College has always been one of the biggest participants, which held true this March. 49 students from Smith formed 10 teams to compete, twice as many students as last year.
As Smith’s Statistical and Data Sciences (SDS) department continues to grow, it makes sense that more Smith students were interested in DataFest this year. The number of students majoring in SDS is constantly increasing and a new club, Smithies in SDS, was just approved by the Student Government Association.
The SDS faculty at Smith are also the driving force behind the Five College DataFest’s success. Though the event was hosted at UMass, it was organized by two Smith professors in the SDS department, Ben Baumer and Miles Ott.
The rest of the department also contributed to organizing the event and were there all weekend answering students’ questions, arranging transportation and keeping the whole event running smoothly.
At the end of the weekend, there is a presentation for each group to showcase what they found over the weekend. There are multiple prizes that can be won, but the main prize is “Best in Show” and results in the winning college bringing home the trophy for the year.
Smith students won “Best in Show” three times in the past, with Amherst winning once. This year, UMass Amherst had its first victory and their team “Regression Toward the Team” took home the trophy.
Smith students also did very well in this year’s competition and the team “A-Super-NOVA,” which comprised of Audrey Bertin ’21, Riley Boeth ’18, Emma Livingston ’20, Clara Rosenberg ’20 and Kara VanAllen ’20, won one of the Best in Group prizes.
Although none of the other Smith teams took home a prize, DataFest was, as always, a wonderful opportunity to learn new things, stretch one’s skills and learn to implement the things students have spent their college career cultivating.