This competition, along with the numerous practical initiatives created by IE University, is one of the many examples of how our academic offering goes beyond the four walls of a classroom.

This year, the IE School of Human Sciences and Technology invited first-year students to participate in the Viz Competition—an event designed to show the powerful role visualization plays in decision-making. Presenting their work in front of a panel, students were able to apply skills acquired in the classroom to a real-world simulation.

The event, that took place in Segovia on January 22, 2020, acted as the conclusion to the Data Insights and Visualization course taken by students in the following programs:

In the first round of the competition, students were separated into teams during their Data Insights and Visualization course. After receiving the datasets and a detailed description of the requirements and criteria for evaluation, the participants assessed and analyzed data from one of ten topics. At the end of the course, the top three teams from each program advanced to the final round.

In the final round, the teams were all given the same dataset and twelve days to assess and analyze the data. This time, however, they were given no instructions about the type of analyses required. Under the supervision of their professors, they were free to decide what they wanted to do with the data.

The dataset and raw data students received in the final round dealt with weather, energy generation and consumption, and energy pricing in Spain between 2015 and 2018. The final results from the event were diversified—ranging from insights into energy production among different sources and a cost analysis of the weather’s influence on power generation in the country to how Spain could achieve a future of fossil-free energy creation.

We talked to Leo Friedrich, Guia Quagini and Muhammed Fatih Öztürk from the Bachelor in Data and Business Analytics,  and Joel Etten and Quan Tran Minh from the Bachelor in Behavior and Social Sciences about their competition insights.

What have you learned from the Viz Competition?

By having a hands-on experience in data analysis, we learned how to present our results as well as how to manage different situations—from discovering how to handle such a large amount of data and developing a decision-making process to analyze it, to finally presenting our data visually so an uninformed spectator could understand our analysis and findings. And as this was a competition, there was a lot of pressure—we were competing in groups with new peers outside of the classroom environment. The event was pretty much an example of a situation that we may encounter in our professional careers.

What was the decision-making process regarding the data like?

We were completely free to analyze it however we wanted, but it also had to make sense. So, we tried to make some preliminary inferences, formulate research questions, and then figure out which data we would need to test to see if our hypotheses were accurate. Additionally, we referred to IE University’s core values in order to formulate some questions. Since IE University is a business-oriented university, we wanted our presentation to reflect those values.

Can you tell us a little about the group communication and teamwork?

We worked mostly online, but we met face-to-face a couple of times to align our goals. Since it was a group effort, we tried to assign each person with tasks that they would perform best. For example, the team member who enjoyed drawing and designing most was assigned to create the poster, while others were assigned the tasks of organizing the presentation, creating graphs and analyzing the data. As we are all in the same academic year, we knew each other’s strengths, so there were no issues when executing the project.

How can you apply what you have learned to future experiences?

This competition gave us insight into how to truly lead a project on our own. With the guidelines being quite open-ended, the final results varied a lot by group. It also presented us with a hands-on experience in choosing how to present the data and share our findings with an audience that did not have any idea about what went into the analyses we carried out. It was a very good training experience which can be applied to a number of different situations in the future, from a workplace environment to convincing people that your work is accurate.

What is your takeaway from the competition?

This is an experience that we will keep with us for the rest of our lives as we feel better prepared to do more analyses in the future. We can also identify what we would change the next time we do a project like this. We had a lot of fun doing this, and watching the entire transformation process of converting raw data into a short presentation was fascinating.

The Viz Competition was a success. The top three teams took home their prizes for winning, and all of the participants received a certificate of recognition for taking part in the event. This competition, along with the numerous practical initiatives created by IE University, is one of the many examples of how our academic offering goes beyond the four walls of a classroom.

**Special thanks to Caio Marques who kindly helped us write this post!