Special Olympics Colorado benefits from DU Analytics Challenge

February 20, 2017


2017 analytics challenge DU team

DU’s analytics team

Three students from the United States Air Force Academy won the 2017 DU Analytics Challenge hosted by the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business on Feb. 17. The Air Force Academy, along with teams from Daniels and the Colorado School of Mines, analyzed data from Special Olympics Colorado to help the organization determine how to better use its resources to serve its constituents.

“It was a way to take all the stuff in the classroom and apply it,” said Air Force student Ryan Krahn.

The students were given five data files, including a roster of athletes, coaches, sports that are offered and current school programs to analyze for about six weeks. Special Olympics Colorado wanted to know:

  • Which coaches are needed for particular sports, by age group and by geographic constraints?
  • What is the most efficient/effective expansion plan for its school programs?
  • Which areas might be underserved?

Special Olympics Colorado currently serves more than 20,000 athletes statewide. While the organization has made great progress in reaching those athletes in the last 10 years, it understands there is further to go. With estimates of approximately 150,000 people in the state with an intellectual disability, Special Olympics Colorado wants to reach those individuals, but also recognize its constraints as a charity

“We’re not in a position as nonprofit to access the ability and brilliance in this room,” said Mindy Watrous, president and CEO of Special Olympics Colorado. “Thank you for spending so much time on our project.”

Angela Liu, a masters of business analytics student, was on the Daniels team. She appreciated having an opportunity to work with a real-world data set.

“I hope Special Olympics, by having good data, can really quantify and justify their strategic plan in a practical and useful way,” she said.

The Air Force Academy students split $2,500. The team from the Colorado School of Mines took second place, splitting $1,000. The Daniels team took third, splitting $500.

“This is a signature event for the Department of Business Information and Analytics,” said Andrew Urbaczewski, chair of the Daniels Department. “DU is a great private university for the public good and this event serves the university’s mission while giving our students and exceptional challenge-driven experience.”