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Texas A&M To Host World’s First Datathon October 19-20

The first-of-its kind event will have 450 student participants from around the world and will last 30 hours.
By Shana K. Hutchins, College of Science October 16, 2019

Texas A&M University will serve as the host site this fall for a first-of-its-kind international data science-driven event, the TAMU Datathon.

The 30-hour, weekend data science competition and learner event, set for October 19-20 at the Texas A&M Student Recreation Center, has attracted 2,000 applicants from 130 universities and 95 majors for the unprecedented opportunity to solve real-world challenges in data science and compete for a variety of prizes. Space is limited to 450 attendees, who will be selected from a gamut of skill levels, majors and classifications ranging from freshmen to Ph.D. students.

an abstract design meant to symbolize data
Datathon will allow students to solve real-world challenges in data science and compete for a variety of prizes. (Photo: Getty Images)

“Think hackathon, but with a data science focus,” said Josiah Coad, Class of 2019, a triple major in computer science, mathematics and statistics who serves as project lead for the entirely student-run event. “As the host university of the first Major League Hacking data science hackathon in the world, Texas A&M is in a unique position to gain an international spotlight as the university leading the way in data science.”

In addition to piquing the interest of thousands of applicants around the world, the TAMU Datathon has attracted title sponsorship from 20 corporate sponsors — six of them Fortune 500 companies in data science, including Facebook, Walmart and Shell. On-campus backers include the Texas A&M College of Science, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the Texas A&M Institute of Data Science, the Department of Mathematics, the Department of Statistics and the Texas A&M Data Analytics Club, whose faculty advisor is Valen E. Johnson, distinguished professor of statistics and dean of the College of Science.

“The Datathon promises to be a truly remarkable opportunity for students across the campus and from other campuses across the country to participate in the data science revolution,” Johnson said. “Students will be able to register for a learner’s track to obtain basic data science training, or for a competition track in which they can test their skills in developing predictive models for real-world phenomena. It is fantastic that the organizers have brought this first-of-its-kind event to the Texas A&M University campus.”

Each TAMU Datathon sponsor has the option to host a 30-minute workshop or tech talk during Saturday’s portion of the two-day event. Workshops are intended to feature hands-on technical or coding activities that are useful to participants but also potentially tied to individual sponsor missions. Tech talks give sponsors a chance to turn the spotlight inward to educate participants on related data science opportunities that ideally inspire the world’s top talent to apply for eventual jobs or graduate programs.

Coad, a Grand Challenges Scholar who already holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics and statistics from Oxford University, notes that regardless of their future plans or career goals, TAMU Datathon attendees are guaranteed to be diverse. In addition to being 30 percent female, the applicant pool was 31 percent first-generation students.

“We believe the TAMU Datathon will inspire students across all genders, levels and disciplines to integrate quality data-driven practices into their field of expertise,” Coad said. “The entire leadership team has worked hard and is understandably proud to introduce the world to Texas A&M as we showcase our collective faculty, student and staff expertise in data science.”

Learn more on the TAMU Datathon site or email connect@tamudatathon.com.

For more information on getting involved in data science as a student at Texas A&M, visit Texas A&M Data Analytics Club or the College of Engineering-based Texas A&M Data Science Club.

Media contact: Shana K. Hutchins, 979-862-1237, shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Josiah Coad, 208-819-2625, joshiah@coad.net

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