Student Data Science Club Builds Skills, Opportunity for Members
Later this week, Starry Night is coming to Georgia Tech. No, not the Van Gogh painting, the 36-hour student datathon hosted by Data Science at GT (DSGT).
Although it’s not a priceless work of art, Hacklytics 2023: A Starry Night is expected to be an invaluable opportunity for the nearly 650 students participating in the three-day competition – in-person and virtually – to stretch their imaginations to find creative data-driven solutions to real-world challenges.
With Van Gogh’s painting as their inspirational starting point, DSGT leaders decided to take their vision for this year’s Hacklytics a bit further.
“We were really inspired to let it be all about creativity, imagination, and perspective. We extrapolated the Starry Night theme to be about exploration and outer space, which tie into our tracks, our décor, and generally, into the whole vibe of the event,” Krishi Manek, DSGT director of projects and second-year computer science (CS) major.
Hacklytics 2023, which received nearly 1,300 applcations, is sanctioned by Major League Hacking and open to all Georgia Tech students, as well as any university student over the age of 18. Teams will compete for potential internships with top tech companies and $10,000 in tech-gadget prizes.
The event is set for Feb. 10 – 12 in the Klaus Advanced Computing Building atrium and features tracks in sports, healthcare, energy and sustainability, and finance. The challenges for each track are developed by DSGT and the club’s sponsors and industry partners.
“We ask our sponsors to develop challenges based on their tracks. For example, GT Athletics has brought us projects they are working on around measuring acceleration for the swim team and the track team,” said Shreiyas Saraf, DSGT president.
Far from merely creating theoretical solutions, Hacklytics has a proven track record of inspiring teams to develop tools that make an impact in the real-world. Saraf says that a winning team last year developed a tool that visualizes pitching and can suggest the best pitch to throw in any given situation.
“The project was implemented, and the team members are now on contract with GT Baseball. The year before, a Hacklytics team working on a challenge from Capital One created a credit card fraud analyzer for them that went into development and became something they use today,” said Saraf, who is also a second-year CS major.
Hacklytics is a signature annual event for DSGT, which was established in 2016, but the datathon is not the only event the student-led club organizes each year. Community-focused projects and training bootcamps are also part of how the club is working to advance its membership’s data science skills and experience.
DSGT typically works with startup companies, as well as larger businesses like Accenture, Amazon, and State Farm, for its community projects. It’s also successfully partnered with organizations the Scheller School of Business and CREATE-X at Georgia Tech. These projects are geared to deliver actionable results for the clients and hands-on experience for DSGT members.
To help its members build the skills needed to be successful in these types of data science projects, DSGT organizes training bootcamps each semester. These in-person and online bootcamps offer training opportunities in machine learning basics, popular programming languages, like Python, and data analytics tools, such as Pandas.
“Our club motto is ‘data-science with a focus on community,’ so, to that end, we want all of our events and projects to benefit the broader community and our DSGT community,” said Manek.
Like Hacklytics, DSGT membership is open to all Georgia Tech students. The club had nearly 500 members in Fall 2022 with majors including industrial engineering, computer engineering, computer science, computational science and engineering, mathematics, business, and analytics.
“I honestly think data science is a field that's so applicable to almost every facet of our lives and our club does a great job of introducing data science concepts to students. And then, if they're interested, they can use our club to explore further opportunities with our programs, sponsors, and corporate partners,” said second-year CS major Reshma Gudla, DSGT marketing director.
For more information, visit the Data Science at GT website.