Each spring, Winona State University sponsors the Midwest Undergraduate Data Analytics Competition (MUDAC), bringing together student participants, their advisors, and analytics professionals for a two-day event dedicated to enhancing the education of undergraduates who will soon be entering the data analytics profession.

The event attracts undergraduates from colleges and universities across the Midwest, and recruits upwards of 150 students, academic advisors, working professionals, and volunteers from the data analytics field.

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

Each year, MUDAC partners with a real-life organization for the competition. Student teams are given a challenge question, a real dataset and 24 hours to solve a real-world problem. Teams then present their insights to a panel of analytics professionals serving as judges.

“What I liked most was the challenge and the competition,” said Uzma Ghazanfar, a member of the 2018 WSU team.

WSU took first prize in the 2018 competition—the seventh annual—co-presented by MinneAnalytics and the Minnesota Wild on the WSU campus. Students were asked to identify and operationalize relevant fan retention metrics for the Minnesota Wild in order to maximize the renewal rate of season ticket holders.The Wild received all solutions immediately following the competition.

“We’ll have to wait and see if the Minnesota Wild will implement 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.”

MUDAC continues to expand and evolve. The 2018 event also included a panel discussion on professional development and a career fair for participants, and a total of 20 different colleges and universities participated in the competition.

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.

For more information, contact Chris Malone at cmalone@winona.edu.

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Kassidy Jackson

Kassidy is a Public Relations major, Advertising minor and Dance minor graduating in 2019 from Rosemount, MN.