It's time for DataFest 2014! Ready to get energized with data?


DataFest is a data analysis competition where teams of up to five students have a weekend to attack a large, complex, and surprise dataset (though there's a hint on this page!). Your job is to represent your school by finding and communicating insights into these data. The teams that impress the judges will win prizes as well as glory for their school. Everyone else will have a great experience, lots of food, and fun!

What's different this year?

  • This year the event is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.
  • The event will be held at the newly renovated Gross Hall at Duke University.

How do I register?

Click here to register.

Each member of the team must register separately. Ideally, you will have already chosen a team name, but this can be changed later. If you'd like to compete but don't have a team, 
send us an email and we'll link you up with other students who are looking for teammates.

Seats are limited, so register early! The registration deadline is Friday, March 7, at 5pm


There is a nominal registration fee of $20, but you can apply for a registration grant. To do so, simply check the appropriate box on the registration form. These will be approved on a rolling basis, and you will find out within a few days of applying.


Do we have to stay the entire time?
No. You may come and go as you please. However, you are not allowed to work on the project except while you are on DataFest grounds, and at least 3 members of your team must attend the introduction.


What was DataFest2013 like?
It was great! You can read about it here.


What can I win?
Cash prizes, fame, glory, or some combination thereof... And you get a t-shirt!

Where else is DataFest happening?

DataFest is growing fast! This year DataFest is being held at 5 locations around the US with participation from 15 universities!

  • Duke University event: Duke, UNC, NCSU
  • UCLA event: UCLA, Pomona, Cal State LB, USC, UCR
  • Princeton University
  • Five Colleges event: Smith College, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Mt. Holyoke College, Amherst College, Hampshire College
  • Emory University

Our goal is to make it an annual event that includes as many schools as possible. If you are interested in holding DataFest at your institution, send an email to Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel to get more information on the event.

Anything else I should know about DataFest?
While DataFest is a competition, the main goal of the event is to promote collaboration. Here is a testimonial from past participants:

"It was a great experience, with a fun and interesting challenge. One of my favorite parts is how varied the presentations and projects from each team are. I love learning about ways in which others looked at and analyzed the same problem/ data."

"DataFest 2012 was an awesome experience. To me, the best part was working in a team of friends that I usually hung out with, but had not had a chance to work together intensively on a project. We enjoyed analyzing the situations and solving problems together for our client. At the end of the day, we just got to know each other better. It was also fun to interact with other teams to explore other approaches while keeping in mind that we were in competition. The fact that we were given a huge amount of data really challenges us to come up with creative and practical approaches. Another important part was the presentation. Every team had to explain well to the judges their objectives and solutions. Our team won the Best Visualization award which is really awesome. Lastly, the food was fantastic."

DataFest is also a great opportunity to gain experience that employers are looking for. Having worked on a data analysis problem at this scale will certainly help make you a good candidate for any position that involves analysis and critical thinking, and it will provide a concrete example to demonstrate your experience during interviews.

What do I need to compete?
All you need is a laptop with tools for data analysis (there is no limitation on which software you use) and enthusiasm for data.


What are the rules of the competition?

The rules are very simple:

  • No more than five students members per team.
  • Team members can come and go as they please but all work has to be done on-site. A steady supply of food, beverage, and candy make it more inviting to stay.
  • It's a competition, but a friendly one, so collaboration between teams is not only allowed but highly encouraged. Official DataFest consultants (grad students, faculty, etc.) will also be around throughout the weekend to help with any questions you might have. However you can't have outside help.


Event Details:
DataFest 2014 starts on Friday, March 21, 2014 at 6pm at Gross Hall at Duke University, and will end by 5pm on Sunday, March 23, 2014.
On Friday we will start with a reception where your surprise client will give a brief introduction to the data you will be working with over the weekend and tell you a bit about what they would like to get out of it. The data will likely be much more complex than what you are used to seeing in your classes, and you will be given free reign to analyze it however you like. In other words, you will come up with a research question that is of interest to you, and conduct the appropriate analysis to answer your question. But you are welcomed, and encouraged, to take cues from the client's introduction when shaping your research question(s).
Presentations and judging will begin at 2:30pm on Sunday, March 23, 2014. Each team will give a brief (5 minute) presentation of their findings to a panel of judges comprised of faculty and professionals from a variety of fields. There will be prizes in many categories, such as best visualization, best use of external data, and best findings. A finalized list of categories will be announced at the beginning of the competition.


Any questions?

Please don't hesitate to contact your local organizer with any questions:


A huge thanks to our sponsors! If you're interested in being a sponsor for DataFest 2014, please contact Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel.