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ASA DataFest 2018 @ Duke took place over the April 6-8, 2018 at Penn Pavillion with participation from over 380 students in 84 teams from nine schools (Duke, UNC, NC State, Wake Forest, Appalachian State University, NC A&T, NCSSM, College of William and Mary, Meredith). This was one of the thirty-six DataFests happening this spring around the world this year!

The data challenge this year was presented by asked “What advice would you give a new high school about what major to choose in college? How does Indeed’s data compare to official government data on the labor market? Can it be used to provide good economic indicators?” You can watch Indeed’s pitch here.

As usual, students were free to focus on these particular questions, or a different question of their own choosing.

At the end of two days filled with hard work, food, entertainment, and fun, the teams presented their findings to the judges in two rounds, and the judges awarded prizes in four categories (Best Visualization, Best Use of Outside Data, Best Insight, and Judges’ Pick) as well as numerous honorable mentions. UNC Chapel Hill’s Society of Physics Students won Best Use of Outside Data.

The Canonical Ensemble hails from UNC. Gibson Bennett is a senior in Computer Science, Danielle Du Perez is a sophomore in Linguistics, Jeremy Low is a junior in physics, and Kristy Sakano is a senior in Astrophysics.

Here is how they described their project:

Many of us are seniors, and even those of us who are not are probably looking to enter the workforce soon. We want to find jobs that meet our educational qualifications, and we also want to make money! To do this, we want to find a city where lots of jobs are available for our education level, and where the salaries are high for the cost of living. We also want to help people living in the city know if it’s worth it for them to go to college!

They took a three-pronged approach: (1) analyze the average number of available jobs by education level per million people in each city using population data from the US Census, (2) normalized the city’s median salaries to the cost of living in those cities, and (3) finally, we looked at how increasing education level influences salary in each city, to see in which cities a degree would provide the greatest salary benefit. Their final product includes a Tableau visualization.

Full recap here.

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