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Graduate students win Acumen Award

Four South Dakota State University graduate students won the Acumen Award at the MinneMUDAC 2017, an annual data science competition in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, that took place in November.

SDSU Grad Gold, which consisted of Ericka Readel of Fridley, Minnesota, Ashik Sahani of Dharan, Nepal, Eric Stratman of Yankton and Monica Velakturi of Chittoor District, India, won the award for having the most technically appropriate and accomplished team presentation. The team competed in the advanced graduate division, analyzing real patient data from 40,000 diabetes patients from a four-year period, predicting which patients would likely become high cost in the following year.

The competition is sponsored by MinneAnalytics, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving Minnesota’s data science and analytics community. Data science professionals from different colleges, companies and planning committee volunteers run the event.

Thomas Brandenburger, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, said the team had just one month to review the data on the patients and prepare its presentation.

“The team reviewed every pill the patients took, every claim they made, every diagnosis they received,” Brandenburger said. “It was a few million rows of convoluted health-care data that had been de-identified.”

Judges reported the SDSU team was “well prepared and did a great job working together as a team,” according to Brandenburger. The members each received $200 as part of winning the Acumen Award.

A total of 60 teams, including another SDSU team, competed in three divisions.

Brandenburger said SDSU is planning on competing in next year’s MinneMUDAC competition, which will have a new problem for teams to solve.