Students come up with novel business solutions for Cisco as part of “data dive” competition

A photo of the first-place team presenting at the data dive competition. The team, which received $3,000, included Monkia Meng, junior in computer science and finance, Isaac Tang, junior in finance, Kana Wei, senior in hospitality and tourism management, and Ruoxuan Zhao, senior in the accounting and finance.The winning team, which received $3,000, included Monika Meng, junior in computer science and finance, Isaac Tang, junior in finance, Kana Wei, senior in hospitality and tourism management, and Ruoxuan Zhao, senior in the accounting and finance.

Teams of Purdue students took a dive as part of the University’s Dawn or Doom ‘17 conference and Cisco walked away with a portfolio of original business solutions as a result. 

Meanwhile, the winning students walked away with $6,000 in prize money.

The Krannert School of Management's Business Information and Analytics Center, along with ITaP, hosted the “data dive” competition in conjunction with Purdue’s Dawn or Doom ’17 conference on the risks and rewards of emerging technology.

Students used supply chain data from Cisco Systems, which Cisco provided thanks to the close professional relationship shared by Gerry McCartney, Purdue’s vice president for information technology and chief information officer, and Cisco’s executive leadership.

“A primary goal of the data dive is to expose students to real world data-driven decisions early on and have them generate fresh insights for the sponsoring organization,” says professor Mohammad Rahman, an associate professor of Krannert and the lead organizer.

The interdisciplinary student teams analyzed the data set and used it to gain insights into a specific data analytics problem of interest to Cisco. The students were asked to look at one or all of the following problems: how to optimize freight planning with respect to load, how to reduce carbon emissions, and how to improve the customer delivery cycle time.

Forty teams of 171 students from across six schools and colleges initially registered for the competition. The 10 teams whose submissions were judged by Cisco analytics professionals in the initial round included Purdue students in 17 majors ranging from management and computer and information technology to industrial engineering and hospitality and tourism management.

The competition was open to all full-time Purdue undergraduate and master’s students and attracted an almost even mix of both, as well as an almost even mix of women and men. Every team needed three to five members and had to include a minimum of one Krannert student and one non-Krannert student.

The teams also had to create a PowerPoint presentation and make a video recording presenting their analyses and recommendations. The top seven presented their findings to a panel of judges including:

  • Vinu Thomas, Presidio’s chief technology officer
  • Dewand Neely, chief information officer for the state of Indiana
  • Diana Beaudoin, Purdue’s chief data officer
  • Jeff Cristee, vice president, worldwide sales training for Cisco

“We now have seven recommendations that will be going straight to the vice president of supply chain,” Cristee says. “There were lots of good insights, especially the winning team. Theirs were the most impactful on costs of shipping.”

The first-place team, which received $3,000, included Monika Meng, junior in computer science and finance, Isaac Tang, junior in finance, Kana Wei, senior in hospitality and tourism management, and Ruoxuan Zhao, senior in the accounting and finance.

“We don’t have any formal data analytics background, so we just used the approaches that we knew to solve the problem,” Zhao says.

The second-place team included Ellen Wongso, a graduate student in industrial engineering, Hongxia Shi, a graduate student in business analytics and information management, Praditya Ajidarma, a graduate student in industrial engineering, Shenyang Yang, a graduate student in business analytics and information management, and Xiangyi Che, a graduate student in business analytics and information management, and received $2,000.

The third-place team included Jiahua Xu, a junior in finance, Rong Lu, a junior in management, Sije Cai, a senior in actuarial science, and Siyuan Cao, a senior in industrial engineering, and received $1,000.

“To be able to include students from so many colleges and to utilize our corporate relationship with Cisco really helped make the competition a success,” says McCartney.

Writer: Kirsten Gibson, technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), 765-494-8190, gibson33@purdue.edu

Last updated: October 2, 2017

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