Zicklin Graduate Students Win Pitney Bowes Data Challenge
June 30, 2021
Twice is nice. For the second year in a row, a team of Zicklin graduate students has won the Pitney Bowes Data Challenge, a two-week-long competition among students from across Baruch College and the Zicklin School with the help of Professor Arturo Castellanos, Justyn Makarewycz from the Graduate Career Management Center, and a team of dedicated professionals at Pitney Bowes.
The number of students entering the competition more than doubled from last year, with 120 students signing up to take part in the challenge, which this year asked contestants to use machine learning models to predict the likelihood of a mailing meter failing within the next seven days. This is critical for Pitney Bowes to avoid any disruptions in its clients’ operations.
Among 15 student teams who submitted their work, five teams were shortlisted to give presentations to a team of Pitney Bowes data scientists, who chose the winners: Lei (Larry) Gao (MS Information Systems, ’22), Katherine Jimenez (MS Information Systems, ’22), Hojin Lee (MS Information Systems, ’22), and Chiahsuan (Christine) Lin (MS Business Analytics, ’21).
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to analyze the data from beginning to end and to get helpful feedback from the Pitney Bowes data scientists,” Lee said. Her teammate Katherine Jimenez agreed, adding that the biggest challenge was creating a presentation that was equally balanced between explaining the technical aspects of the team’s work and connecting the findings to the business problem.
Pretish Chacko Kuruvila, one of the Pitney Bowes data scientists who judged the students’ work, praised the Zicklin team: “For the second year in a row the Baruch teams participating in the Pitney Bowes Data Science Challenge demonstrated an excellent understanding of applying data science best practices to real world business problems and providing actionable recommendations based on analytical insights.”
The data challenge is the culmination of a year-long collaboration between Pitney Bowes and the Zicklin School’s Paul H. Chook Department of Information Systems and Statistics. All year, Pitney Bowes data scientists have led a series of workshops and seminars to students at the Zicklin School. Already, the collaboration has led to Pitney Bowes hiring two students this year for the company’s data science internship series, said Department of Information Systems and Statistics Chair Marios Koufaris.
Nanda Kumar, academic director of the Zicklin School’s Master of Science in Business Analytics program, said the Pitney Bowes data challenge “is a great opportunity for students to apply the business analytics methods they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world problems.”
In addition to the data challenge, Pitney Bowes hosted a bootcamp on design thinking hosted by the company’s design thinking team, noted Justyn Makarewycz, associate director of the Zicklin School’s Graduate Career Management Center. “The bootcamp equipped students with insights to reframe business problems and goals with a creative solution-based approach to problem solving,” he said.
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