In February 2017, students from across the Front Range competed in the DU Analytics Challenge to help Special Olympics Colorado solve two business problems: Where are the gaps between coaches and athletes for given sports, and where should they concentrate their efforts for the future? Special Olympics Colorado provided the students with data on their coaches, athletes and current programs. The students went about providing data driven solutions to these problems. Cadets from the United States Air Force Academy provided the solution judged to be the winner, while teams from the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Denver submitted second and third place solutions.

In the meantime, Special Olympics Colorado has taken the solutions provided by the students to heart. They have hired a Coach Development Manager who is responsible for identifying areas of need, including recruiting and training coaches in the areas targeted by the student solutions. Part of the role is to improve the website by making it easier to interact with Special Olympics Colorado by streamlining coach registration.

Moreover, they also realized the importance of having a dedicated staff member who can manage and report on collected data. They recently hired their first Data Manager who immediately was able to jump in and improve data quality. She implemented, tightened, and managed processes to help ensure that data in the systems are more correct and complete and ready for structured analysis. This has enabled monthly status reporting and better compliance with external and internal regulations. Now there is a process in place for athletes who have physical examinations about to expire.

Mindy Watrous, President and CEO of Special Olympics Colorado and a judge at the DU Analytics Challenge said, “I’m thrilled with what the students were able to not only do for us, but how they were able to use analytics to open our eyes to so many more possibilities. These efforts have changed the way we think about our coaches and how we support them. I’m so glad that we were able to work with all these talented students.”

The fifth edition of the DU Analytics Challenge takes place in April 2018, and our client this year is Food Bank of the Rockies. Students will work on challenges for them to meet their goals of reducing food waste and providing more balanced and nutritious meals to their clients. Stay tuned to our website for more information.