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» ASA DataFest at Chapman University

UPDATE: Out of an abundance of caution, ASA DataFestTM 2020 at Chapman University will be suspended and reconvene next year in May 2021.

What Is ASA DataFestTM?

ASA DataFestTM is a data hackathon for undergraduate students, sponsored by the American Statistical Association.  ASA DataFestTM at Chapman is hosted by the Schmid College of Science and Technology, the Fowler School of Engineering and the Office of Residence Life and First Year Experience.

Analyze ASA DataFestTM introduces you to what is likely the richest, most complex dataset you’ve seen so far in your undergraduate career. The dataset is provided by a real-life organization and is chosen to provide many avenues of discovery.  Students at any stage of their data science education will find something of interest and will have the opportunity to make an original finding.  Students from any major are welcome.

Network Mingle with data science professionals who visit DataFestTM to offer their advice and answer your questions.  You also get to meet students from other colleges and universities in southern California.

Experience Past participants of the ASA DataFestTM have gone to job interviews able to describe technical challenges overcome, explain how they work under time-pressure, and talk about their thoughts on solving real-life data problems.


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DataFest is a celebration of data in which teams of undergraduates work around the clock to find and share meaning in a large, rich, and complex data set.

DataFest was founded at UCLA in 2011. ASA DataFest is now sponsored by the American Statistical Association and hosted by several of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country. More than 500 students take part. The event has become so popular in Southern California that a second SoCal site was hosted at Chapman University in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Out of an abundance of caution, DataFest 2020 will be suspended. Please, key an eye out for next year's DataFest information.

Past events have featured data from companies such as:

  • Expedia
  • Ticketmaster
  • eHarmony
  • GridPoint
  • Canadian National Women's Rugby 7 Team

A key feature of ASA DataFest is that it brings together the data science community. Undergraduate students do the work, but they are assisted by roving consultants who are graduate students, faculty, and industry professionals. Many professionals find DataFest to be a great recruiting opportunity–they get to watch talented undergraduate students work under pressure in a team and examine their thinking processes.

After two days of intense data wrangling, analysis, and presentation design, each team is allowed a few minutes and no more than two slides to impress a panel of judges. Prizes are given for Best in Show, Best Visualization, and Best Use of External Data.

For more information contact Cyril Rakovski,


DataFestTM is a team competition. Teams of up to 5 undergraduate students have less than 48 hours to determine who can provide the best insight —and communicate that insight–gleaned from a large, complex dataset. The teams that impress the judges will win prizes. Everyone else will have a great experience, lots of food, and fun.

Any undergraduate students at Chapman University or the other colleges or universities formally participating in Chapman ASA Datafest. All members of the team must be undergraduate students. Teams can have no more than 5 people.

If your school is not listed on the Student Participant Registration Form, then send an email to Cyril Rakovski, , and express your interest in having your school participate.

DataFest 2020 is suspended. Please, check back next year for details on how to register for DataFest 2021. 

To register as a student, use the Student Participant Registration Form . 

To register as a Mentor, use the Mentor Registration Form.

The next DataFestTM will be held at Chapman University in May 2021.
Details are posted under “Competition” and "Announcements" as they become available.

No. You may come and go as you please. However, you are not allowed to work on the project except while you are inside the venue.

Prizes. Fame. Glory. Or some combination thereof.

The data will be distributed via USB drives, and so at least one team member should be able to read the data. The data set may be as large as 2 GB, so make sure you have sufficient memory.


How can you support DataFestTM?

There are three ways you can support DataFestTM as either an individual or a business:

Please consider participating as a Mentor
Spend an hour or two getting to know the students and offering your sage advice. 
This is an excellent recruiting opportunity; you get to watch students working in teams, under pressure, striving to understand possibly the most complex data set they have encountered. 
In fact, each year, several students have received internships and interviews that have led to full-time employment. 
Success at DataFest requires that a team have a combination of computational, statistical, and human skills, as well as the ability to communicate clearly and extremely concisely.

We will provide free meals and free parking for Mentors.

Please consider a financial contribution and, in particular, asking your employer to contribute
We are seeking to raise $10,000 to cover food and facility expenses. 

Swag. Pens, thumb drives, notepads
The students love these and they help make the event fun. If we get something special, we can give it away in a “midnight raffle” to help keep the energy level high.

If you’d like to visit DataFestTM or want more information, please email Cyril Rakovski at


We welcome financial donations from individuals and businesses. Donations are used to provide food, prizes, and supplies.

You can contribute online through the Schmid College Fund for Academic Excellence and indicate in the Memo field that your contribution is to support Datafest or you can contact Sarah Buckley,


We welcome professionals who work in data-related fields, as well as academics and researchers, to join us as Mentors. We will provide you with some information about the data challenge before your arrival. Once you arrive, we hope you’ll enjoy wandering around the room and dispensing wisdom and advice. You’ll also find that DataFestTM is a great place to scout future talent! Where else can you observe students working with a team on a real problem under intense deadline pressure?

Visiting DataFestTM as a Mentor will be fun and relaxing, as we strive to keep the mood light. However, if you do sign up for a time slot, please notify us if you must make any changes or if you cannot come. Students often pay attention to when people from particular companies visit, and we also must ensure the number of people in the hall does not exceed the capacity.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Cyril Rakovski,


If you have any questions regarding Datafest, please fill the form below and we will respond with 7 days. Thank you.



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Update: 2020 ASA DataFestTM has been suspended. Check back for more registration details for the next DataFest in 2021.

To join a registered team, complete the Student Participant Registration Form.



DataFestTM begins in the late afternoon on Friday.  Check this site for the actual time you should arrive.

You will need your own laptop(s) and software. We will provide the data on thumb drives (which you will be asked to return).

Bring a water bottle. We will have a water station.

Meals and snacks are provided.

DataFestTM begins Friday evening and ends Sunday afternoon Precise dates and times, including check-in times, will be posted under Announcements. You will be allowed to work around the clock on-site.


Your team must consist of at least 2 and no more than 5 people. All team members must be undergraduates at an officially participating school. Teams can consist of members from multiple schools.

Each team member must register. At the time of registration, you will be asked for your team name. The name must be spelled consistently by all team members.

Team names must be of professional quality. In other words, don’t use terms or words that you wouldn't use in the workplace.

The number of participants is limited by the size of the facility. If we must prioritize, some preference will be given to teams that enroll first, but the time of enrollment will be based on the last member to register.

Once registration is closed, substitute team members will not be allowed.

All work must be done on-site. You are free to leave, but when you do so, you are agreeing that you will NOT work on your project until you return.


Datafest 2019 had 28 teams with 128 students from 8 southern California schools including UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, California State University, Fullerton, California State University, Long Beach, Cal Poly Pomona, Orange Coast College and Chapman University.

A panel of five judges determined the winners of the three official categories: Best Insight, Best Visualization, and Best Use of External Data, and decided to give special awards for Best Use of Statistical Models and Best Use of Data Forensics. The recipients were:

  • Best Insight: git rekt from Chapman University
  • Best Visualization: Joint Distribution from University of California, Irvine
  • Best Use of External Data: Memory Leak from Orange Coast College
  • Best Use of Statistical Software: TopQuantile from California State University, Long Beach
  • Best Use of Data Forensics: unDATAble from Cal Poly Pomona


At Datafest 2018 at Chapman, demand exceeded the space available and Chapman had to turn students away. 112 students competed in 24 teams, representing colleges and universities as far north as Santa Barbara and as far south as San Diego:
Cal Poly Pomona, Chapman, CSU Fullerton, CSU Long Beach, Orange Coast Community, Saddleback Community, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, USC, and West Coast Community College.

The judges awarded winners in three official categories: 

Best Insight: No SQL No Problem
Josh Smith, Chapman University
Jason Kahn, University of California Irvine
Ryan Padilla, University of California Irvine
Wyndal Skarsten, University of California Irvine
Cher Huang, University of California Irvine

Best Visualization: Seems Logit
Brendon Chau, Cal Poly Pomona
Shunto Kobayashi, Cal Poly Pomona
Daniel Aley, Cal Poly Pomona
Christopher Buglino, Cal Poly Pomona
Chon In Luk, Cal Poly Pomona

Best Use of External Data: Data Dirtbags
Kristy Le, Cal State Long Beach
Jacob Cornejo, Cal State Long Beach
Christian Ramirez, Cal State Long Beach
Ricardo Figueroa, Cal State Long Beach
Cesar Dones, Cal State Fullerton

The judges also awarded two “Judges’ Choice Awards”:

Best Use of Data Forensics: SCRUM Lords
Megan Yu, Chapman University
Maika Fujii, Chapman University
William James, Chapman University
Brian Do, Chapman University
Andrew Dieken, Chapman University

Best Use of Statistical Models: DF3
Michael Pollind, Chapman University
Sam Kagan, Chapman University
Austin Bohannon, Chapman University
Evan Walker, Chapman University
Ben Seeley, Chapman University


At Datafest 2017 at Chapman, 15 teams with 65 students from 6 universities participated - 1 from UCSB, 1 from CSUN, 5 from USC, 1 from UCI, 3 from UCSF and 4 from Chapman. There were four categories considered when judging. Teams showcased their work to other competitors and judges. A winning team was chosen in each category.

Best use of External Data
BEST from Chapman University (Timothy Kristedja, Sarah Lasman, Brandon Makin)

Best Visualization: WINNERS');
DROP TABLE Teams from Chapman University (Dylan Bowman, William Cortes, Shevis Johnson, Tristan Tran)

Best Insight:  
The Mean Squares from CSUN (Jamie Decker, Matthew Jones, Collin Miller, Ian Postel, Seyed Sajjadi)

In addition, the judges awarded a special prize to two teams:

Best Use of Statistical Models:
Big Data from USC (Hsuanpei Lee, Omar Lopez, Yi Yang Tan, Grace Xu, Xuejia Xu)
Quants from USC (Cheng Cheng, Chelsea Lee, Hossein Shafii)



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Schedule for ASA DataFestTM 2020 at the Sandhu Conference Center, May 1.

  • Friday 5 pm: Check-in at Sandhu Conference Center, second floor 
  • Friday 6 pm: Opening Ceremonies
  • Friday 7 pm: work begins
  • Sunday noon: work ends
  • Sunday 1 pm: Judging begins
  • Sunday 4 pm: Awards ceremony

Parking is in the Lastinger Parking Structure below the Football Field. You must have a valid permit.