Frozen and canned vegetables are the items that leave the warehouse fastest. Mondays and Saturdays are days they receive the most donations. There is no major correlation between the general health of the population and the food resources they receive.
These are just a few of the observations made by four teams who analyzed data from the Food Bank of the Rockies. Teams from four colleges competed in the 2018 DU Analytics Challenge held April 6 on campus. The challenge, hosted by the Daniels College of Business, required students to analyze large data sets and answer key questions posed by the organization.
Food Bank of the Rockies operates warehouses that serve as the central distribution sites to provide food and essentials to more than 500 hunger-relief programs in Colorado, including Metropolitan Denver, the Eastern Plains and the Western Slope, and the entire state of Wyoming.
“It was great to get such a large data set,” said Jay Langston, a master’s of business analytics student at Daniels. The students were given five data files, including orders for food and inventory tracking information. “It was too large for Excel and we were required to merge 29 or 30 files. We work with data sets in class, but nothing this large or disparate.”
Langston teamed up with Corey McAfee for the competition. The team first competed against teams within Daniels to represent DU at the competition where they won first place, beating the teams from Oklahoma State University, the Colorado School of Mines and Colorado State University.
“The analysis the teams provided was in a clear and concise format,” said Ryan Powell, donor service supervisor at Food Bank of the Rockies. “We can take home the platforms and dashboards they provided, so this will not only be valuable now, but for future years.”
Powell also expressed gratitude that many of the teams went deeper, providing additional information than they were required.
“This gave us insight into data we might not have thought about analyzing.”
This was the first time DU came in first place since 2015. The first place team was awarded $2,500. Colorado School of Mines came in second, receiving $1,000. Oklahoma State University came in third and Colorado State University came in fourth, receiving $500.
“This is an excellent exercise for our students,” said Andrew Urbaczewski, chair of the Daniels Department of Business Information and Analytics. “Our students are challenged to use everything they’ve learned in class in order to give our partner real solutions that could improve their organization.”
Contributing sponsors of the challenge include Westerra Credit Union, Pathways International, EKS&H and OGX Consulting.