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Excelling in Analytics

By Linda LaFrombois on Friday, December 10, 2021


Only four years old, University of Northwestern’s Data Analytics program is making a mark in the Twin Cities and beyond—a testament to the caliber of the students, program, and faculty. 

An inaugural UNW Data Analytics team placed fifth out of 21 teams in the TRUAnalytics Global Analytics Competition in March 2021. Davis Pfaff ’21, Business Data Analytics major, Emily Schleter ’21, Business Data Analytics and Accounting double major, and Jacob Rankin ’21, Business Data Analytics and Accounting double major, had a perfect testing score in the competition. In addition, their presentation performance moved them into the fifth-ranking position overall. Winners of the competition included the University of Hawai’i, University of North Dakota, and Wake Forest.

Matthew Schonberg ’21, double major in Data Analytics and Applied Mathematics, finished fifth in the undergrad division of the MinneAnalytics Madness data analytics competition. For the competition, student teams built predictive models to construct a tournament bracket and predict the outcomes of the 2021 NCAA Division Men’s Basketball Tournament. The event included more than 50 teams with 38 in the undergraduate division.

Kristine Stedman ’22, Data Analytics and Marketing double major, received a $1,000 Data Analytics scholarship from MinneAnalytics in recognition of her proficiency in and commitment to applying marketplace analytical skills. MinneAnalytics is a nonprofit organization serving the data science and emerging technology community in Minnesota, the Upper Midwest, and beyond through conferences and educational events.

This year also marked the start of a new “Data Science and Analytics Club” led by Data Analytics major Caleb Nilson ’22. The club holds regularly scheduled meetings and hosted an internal competition among UNW students. Paige Bruggeman ’22 was the first student winner.

“We are proud of the accomplishments of our students,” said Jonathan Zderad, chair of the Department of Computing, Data & Mathematical Sciences and associate professor of Mathematics. “Their success is a testament to their dedication and the rigor of Northwestern’s Data Analytics program. While most college-level data analytics programs are computer science programs with some data analytics tacked on at the end, our program is unique in that students are taking data analytics courses at the beginning.”