On Saturday December 5, at the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center, the Graham School’s Masters of Science in Analytics (MScA) held its Autumn 2016 Capstone Showcase. Eight teams, each employing state-of-the-art analytics methodologies and a broad range of database and software applications, presented their projects to a panel of judges consisting of Sema Barlas, Director of the MScA, Cris Doloc, Founder and President of ALGOMEX, James Foster, Principal Data Scientist for the Arthur Daniel Midland Company, and Heather Nelson, Senior Solutions Architect at Silicon Valley Data Science.
Serving as the culmination to the students’ experience in the MScA program, the Capstone Project provides each student with an opportunity to pursue analytics-driven research with real-world relevance, bringing together both conceptual and critical skills, as well as quantitative research methods, to develop expertise in an area that supports their career interests and aspirations.
The many excellent presentations spanned a broad landscape of present-day analytics scenarios—from improving market segmentation and prediction modeling to an analysis of factors impacting retail food establishments in Chicago—leaving the judges with the difficult task of deciding on a winner. But after careful consultation among themselves, the judges were able to confidently award the Best-in-Showcase prize to Yilei He, Yanling Jin, and Minyu Lv, whose project entitled “Prediction of Customer Prepay Behavior” built a two-step loan-prepay prediction model for their client Cumulus Funding, who was seeking a means to identify customers likely to prepay their loans.
Receiving Honorable Mention from the panel of judges were Alex Gaski, for her presentation entitled “Customer Segmentation and Lead Scoring Model for Paccar Parts,” and Ted Bakanas, Earl Hammond, and Maria Islas-Martinez, for “Time Series Analysis of Performance of Big Data Systems.”
About their experience working with their industry partner, Cumulus Funding, the three members of the winning team said their industry partner was incredibly supportive and eager to help them in any way they could. “That’s the great and exciting thing about the Capstone Project,” Minyu Lv said, “it’s real-world analytics experience and so there are real stakes.”
Yilei He added that Sema Barlas and Yuri Balasanov, their Faculty Advisors, were also instrumental to the success of their project. “On each occasion that we’d speak with them about our project,” he said, “they would ask deeper and deeper questions, always pushing us to think harder and take our project to the next level.”
As to how they will spend their $5,000 Best-in-Showcase prize, the team members have already started looking at potential conferences to attend. Having graduated and now in the process of moving to new cities to begin new jobs, they are eyeing a major analytics conference taking place in New Orleans next spring.
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